The RLA has warned that further council spending cuts will threaten local government’s ability to police the private rented sector – and stated that a two-path approach to regulation will free them up to actively pursue criminal landlords.
Today’s comprehensive spending review announced 10 per cent cuts to local authority budgets for 2015-16. The RLA says this will have a serious impact on the ability of already hard pressed councils to enforce existing regulations for the private rented sector.
Research conducted by Unison in 2012, based on a Freedom of Information request from 70 per cent of councils throughout the UK, found that the average budget allocated to environmental health services per head of the population had fallen by eight per cent in two years, and a total of 1,272 jobs have been lost over the past two years.
Commenting on the spending review, Alan Ward, chairman of the RLA said, “The private rented sector is already creaking under the weight of regulations and red tape imposed on it which local authorities are struggling at best to enforce. Today’s cuts to local authorities will exacerbate this still further, leaving tenants without the protection they need and deserve.
“In the face of such challenges it is more important than ever to adopt the RLA’s two-path approach to regulation – a robust accreditation scheme for the majority of landlords, leaving local authorities to actively pursue those criminal elements who bring misery to the lives of tenants and who quite simply do not make themselves known whatever scheme is enforced.”
With the chief secretary to the treasury, Danny Alexander MP set to announce details of the Government’s infrastructure plans tomorrow, Alan continued, “The RLA agrees with all political parties about the central role that new housing has to play in building the country out of its economic slump. This is particularly true in the private rented sector.
“Whilst ministers have sought to encourage greater corporate investment in the sector this will only go so far. For a real, sustainable, house building revolution to take place in the rented market means treating the 1.2 million individuals and couples who make up the majority of the country’s landlords as a business within the taxation system.
“Such a policy would boost investment, increase tax receipts and crucially provide tenants with greater choice over their housing options, meaning landlords would need to compete with each other on both price and quality.”