The safeagent accreditation scheme says the next government should not scrap landlord licensing as some trade groups have requested, but should instead streamline the system.
The scheme adds that licensing should be targeted at specific problem neighbourhoods and substandard properties, as well as at rogue landlords and agents.
This is one of a number of proposals put forward by safeagent in the form of a manifesto ahead of the December 12 General Election.
Others include additional funding to councils to enable them to Police their existing powers over three private rented sector; safeagent says they should be supported to use data already available to them including council tax, benefits, tenancy deposit and electoral roll information, and take a fair, accountable and robust approach to compliance.
In line with many other parts of the industry, safeagent also backs the statutory regulation of lettings and management agents.
“This must include professionalising agents through the introduction of minimum qualifications. We also suggest [that] existing co-regulation approaches taken in some Local Authority areas could be built upon. The aim should be to focus efforts on the minority of non-compliant agents and landlords that bring the sector into disrepute. This will help to raise standards across the sector as a whole” according to the manifesto.
Isobel Thomson, safeagent chief executive, says: “With 20 power cent of all households now living in the private rented sector, the importance of this sector cannot be underestimated. We want to see standards raised across the board, professionalising the sector through minimum qualifications for agents, and supporting the good landlords to provide much needed homes ... The new government must make regulation and properly funded enforcement a priority to root out the small number of rogue landlords and agents.”
The scheme also calls on the new administration to take urgent action to bring the current 205,000 empty homes in England into use, with as many as possible for rent; in addition it wants The re-alignment of Local Housing Allowance with the lower end of market rents, bringing an end to the current LHA cap. This would help to ensure that tenants on benefits do not face unfair disadvantage when trying to access the private rented sector, sagfeagent believes.