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Cut the red tape! Huge rise in laws governing private renting

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.”

  • icon

    Completely agree - the rogue landlords and agents continue to ignore regulations knowing that the chances of getting caught are minimal yet the "good guys"have an enormous administrative burden keeping up with the ever increasing demands

  • Mark Wilson

    Don't hold your breath on any less regulation, only expect more! Who in the real world is listening to these warnings?

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    • 04 November 2019 08:46 AM

    Totally disagree with the RLA.
    Abolish ALL Council licensing schemes.
    But replace with ONE National LL Licensing scheme at say £50 per rental property every 5 years.
    Any LL who trades without a National Licence for each property to be required to remove tenants with NO court action required and for Police to be required to assist if the tenants refuse to vacate.
    The LL will not be permitted to let the property until a licence has been obtained.
    That should make about 1 million tenants homeless as many LL WON'T have a licence no.
    Also any LA that takes on a rental property without a licence number to be prosecuted up to £30000.
    That should put off dodgy LA acting for dodgy LL.
    So that means no licence being issued if the LL mortgage provider DOESN'T permit DSS tenants
    Also insurance to be checked it cover occupiers especially when they are DSS tenants.
    To ensure a valid TA us in place and that any deposit it protected where appropriate.
    Any LL who persists in trading without a licence to be hit with £30000 fines.
    A National LL Licensing scheme will bankrupt many criminal LL and LA and that means otherwise law abiding LL and LA.
    There are hundreds of thousands of LL committing fraud by letting to DSS tenants in breach of their mortgage conditions
    This is unfair competition and must be eradicated.
    If this means bankrupting the fraudulent LA and LL then so be it.
    Only an all encompassing National LL Licensing scheme will root out the criminal LL and LA


    Don't be silly. Did you use to live in the USSR? I have witnessed their control over property.

    DHSS tenants are a huge risk to private landlords. You can not escape that fact. Sorry.

  • icon

    Why on earth are councils taking over so much civil law and then ballsing it up? These people claim to represent everybody and end up representing no one and just making tenancy even more difficult for everyone concerned.

    In made the same comment here about three years ago and got a large number of likes.

    We need to stop thinking about landlord tenant problems and start thinking about poor governance from councils and the real government. Tenants and landlords both have plenty of laws for each others protection and there are plenty of busy body groups that can help them. It is beyond time to stop accepting political rubbish ideology as law and deal with the main problem which is councils. We are not very far away from a letting sector collapse.

    I well remember the last lettings crash in Wilson's time and it really, really hurt a lot of people, landlords and tenants. The lady who sorted that mess out is still reviled by a huge number of city councils and left wingers but somewhere along the line councils need to get out of property letting law and stay out.

    Of course councils have an interest in property that is planning, services and social structure but it needs to stop there. Their own let properties are often disgusting. That does not worry them but when a landlord gets caught out then it is entirely the landlords fault. That is insane ideology.

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    • 04 November 2019 16:14 PM

    Fred mate I'm agreeing with you .
    But the only way to stop criminal LL and LA is for EVERY rental property to be licensed and this may only be done by the LL.
    It is quite simple if there is no licence number for a rental property then it can't be let out.
    Anyone letting without a licence to be subject to criminal sanction.
    Very few LL and LA would risk letting unlicensed rental properties with the £30000 penalties available to be imposed.
    There should be. Govt announcement that all LL licensing schemes are to be abolished overnight but that a National LL Licensing scheme will be introduced.
    LL will have a year to become licenced.
    If they fail to do so and they are discovered then full criminal sanctions to be applied


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