One of the industry’s leading trade bodies has revealed that the number of laws creating an obligation on landlords in the private rental sector has soared 32 per cent in just nine years.
According to a new analysis by the Residential Landlords Association, the total number of regulations has increased to 156, up from 118 when the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government came to power in 2010.
The RLA is warning that the increase in legislation has not led to an improvement in enforcement action against criminal landlords and many councils are failing to properly use the powers they already have.
Previous research by the RLA has found that in 2017/18, two thirds of councils had not commenced any prosecutions against private landlords.
In the same year, 89 per cent of councils told the RLA they had not used new powers to issues civil penalties of up to £30,000 against private landlords for a range of offences.
However no fewer than 53 per cent of the councils did not have a policy in place to properly use the power.
Against a rising tide of regulation and poor levels of enforcement the RLA is calling on all political parties in the General Election to commit to improving enforcement of the powers already available rather than introduce new legislation which councils will be unable to use to root out the crooks.
In its manifesto for the December poll the RLA proposes scrapping licensing schemes which serve only to penalise good landlords whilst enabling the criminals to operate under the radar.
Instead, it wants councils to use the wide range of data already available to them, including council tax, benefits, tenancy deposit and electoral roll information to identify landlords.
This needs to be backed up by central government providing a multi-year funding settlement to properly resource enforcement, suggests the association.
“Removing criminal landlords from the sector will only be achieved if councils have the resources and the will to properly use the wide range of powers they already have. Piling more regulations onto the sector which will continue not to be properly enforced is meaningless and serves only to put off good landlords from providing the homes to rent we need” says RLA policy director David Smith.
And he concludes with a warning: “It’s time for smarter enforcement, not more regulation.”