The chairman of the Residential Landlords Association has written in the Labour-supporting New Statesman magazine about the need for the lettings industry to back a Private Members’ Bill proposing to give tenants more power.
Alan Ward writes that criminal landlords are a stain on the private rented sector, and unfairly tarnish the reputation of landlords providing good housing for their tenants.
“Tackling them provides the basis of a shared agenda for the sector between the Labour Party and the industry” he says.
Ward says that it is not surprising that Labour has, in recent years, increased its interest in and proposals for the private rental sector given its expansion to include more families as well as singletons. He says the RLA’s policies and support for tenants to have the right to safe, legal and secure housing means the goals are allied with those of what he calls the Labour movement.
“Central to achieving this is rooting out the minority of landlords who are not ‘rogues’ as some would put it, but criminals” he writes.
Ward then explains that with 140 Acts of Parliament and over 400 individual regulations governing the sector, the issue is more about the need for policing and enforcement rather than additional regulation.
“What is needed is a longer-term settlement between central government and local authorities to ensure the resources are in place to tackle criminal landlords, rather than one off injections of cash which, however welcome, do not enable councils to create a long-term, sustainable, and effective enforcement strategy” he writes.
He then says how the association backs the Private Members’ Bill of Labour MP Karen Buck - her Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill went through its second reading in the Commons on Friday.
“We welcome the government’s support for the Bill and believe it is a sign of what can be achieved when Labour and landlords work constructively together” he says, adding: “While Labour and landlords will continue to have differences of opinion, such as over the desirability or otherwise of forms of rent control, we do believe that this Bill provides the platform for further constructive engagement on key issues facing the sector.”
He concludes: “As landlords, we stand ready to work with Labour to root out the criminals tainting the sector. We must support good landlords to provide the much-needed new homes for rent. We must surely work for the interests of tenants and good landlords, which are of mutual benefit.”