A proposal to make it easier for some local councils to introduce licensing schemes governing the private rental sector will do nothing to root out criminal landlords.
That’s the warning from the Residential Landlords Association in response to a new report from the London Housing Commission recommending that government should give borough councils the power to create their own landlord licensing schemes.
The RLA argues that such schemes are a waste of time and money since criminal landlords who cause misery for tenants never make themselves known. Ministers have also previously dubbed licensing schemes as a “tenants’ tax”.
Instead, the RLA is calling for councils across London to use the powers already available to have the large majority of good landlords regulated by a single, robust industry-run scheme leaving authorities free to better target criminal landlords who operate under the radar.
“We all want to see criminal landlords rooted out of the sector but making licensing easier for councils is not the answer. No criminal landlord ever makes them self known willingly. Licensing only increases the time councils spend administering the scheme when they could instead be devoting those resources to finding criminal landlords” says RLA chairman Alan Ward.
However, the RLA welcomes the report’s calls for more public sector land to be freed up for the development of new private rental properties.
“We welcome the focus that the Commission has on boosting the supply of homes to rent. Ultimately it is only by tackling the housing shortage that high rents can be addressed. It is vital though that any moves to increase the supply of rental housing recognises that the vast majority of landlords are, and will continue to be, individuals rather than big corporate bodies” says Ward.