Mandatory licensing of all letting agents and a national register of all landlords in England would be policy under a Labour government.
The landlords register proposal was unveiled at this week’s party conference by Hilary Benn – but immediately came under fire from both the Residential Landlords Association and the National Landlords Association.
Alan Ward, chairman of the RLA, said: “Proposals for a national register of landlords would do little to find the minority of landlords who reap misery on tenants’ lives and wouldn’t come forward to make themselves known under any scheme.
“It’s time local authorities were freed up to focus on rooting out those who shouldn’t be allowed to rent property out, freeing the majority of decent, law-abiding landlords to provide a good service within the framework of self-regulation.”
Richard Lambert, chief executive officer of the NLA, said: “Landlord registration has been mooted several times in recent years. However, no proponent of a statutory register has clearly identified the objectives which registration will achieve.
“Almost one in five households in the UK lives in a privately rented home. Given this dramatic increase in responsibility which now rests with private landlords it is inevitable that more questions will be asked of their professionalism.
“However, the NLA believes that these discussions must also ask supporters of landlord registration to consider their answers to some important questions:
• How would a future Labour government achieve full compliance considering the register of Scottish landlords has only achieved 75% compliance six years since its launch?
• What will a register achieve that can’t be achieved with existing enforcement powers?
• What is the benefit of registration to the responsible law-abiding landlords?
• How would a Labour government ensure that the cost of registration to landlords would not end up increasing the cost of living for tenants?”
The Labour party conference also unanimously passed a motion to introduce mandatory licensing of agents in order to control fees.