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Written by rosalind renshaw

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.

Comments

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    OK so a register tells them who's a landlord or agent...but then what? Do they then enforce standards by the current available means or simply pass the info onto the taxman to marry up the accounting?

    A register in itself is just an exercise in data collection but like the essence of Industry Observer, whats the point? Until they commit to something more substantial I have to think it's attention seeking/vote grabbing spin and although they may have caught the current whiff of unrest this proposal hardly addresses it. Don't be surprised when this falls by the wayside, shortly after the election...

    • 27 September 2013 15:50 PM
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    Great idea. Labour will get in, and we'll learn whether Ed has a backbone soon after. There are too many apathetic landlords out there not maintaining their tenanted properties, or trying to let them in appalling conditions. With occupation by AST beginning to cultivate more stable relationships between landlords and tenants, a reliable and enforceable set of parameters for landlords to adhere to before renting out their units will help improve the quality of rented accommodation.

    • 27 September 2013 13:05 PM
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    Following Red-Ed’s speech at his conference this week, whatever the Labour Party promise is of no relevance. More chance of bumping in to Lord Lucan than Labour winning the next election.

    • 26 September 2013 17:59 PM
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    Well done Labour. A brilliant idea. Nothing like another register. In fact, we should have a register of registers which we have to register for.

    • 26 September 2013 15:43 PM
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    Time to get out and buy bank shares?

    • 26 September 2013 14:03 PM
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    Red Ed is at it again. Not content with fixing prices in the energy markets & confiscating land from developers, he now wants pointless register of Landlords - to what end? All this data already exists be it via HMRC, TDS, Land registry etc.

    Next he will be using the register to rent cap. Socialism is on the rise as Labour turn left.

    • 26 September 2013 12:46 PM
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    What I fail to understand is that if all those commercial websites selling data can draw information from Equifax, Tesco Clubcard, Apps, electoral registers, etc, why can't the Government?

    • 26 September 2013 12:39 PM
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    Eric, you wrote an article on this which I thought was quite thought provoking - worth reading

    http://www.lettingagenttoday.co.uk/news_features/Eric-Walker-says-there-is-a-better-alternative-to-compulsory-regulation?tickertape=yes#sthash.8rSS5PAm.dpuf

    • 26 September 2013 12:35 PM
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    What next!

    Are they going to bring back dog licenses?

    • 26 September 2013 12:34 PM
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    Well said EW. That's exactly what is needed.

    Another political sound bite from MP's that means nothing

    • 26 September 2013 12:31 PM
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    As with all things, the bad people won't comply.

    What is needed is a whistle-blowing policy with a central point of contact which can pass details of rogue landlords to the proper authorities. Give someone teeth, not red tape.

    As it stands, all tenants get is a "It's not me guv!' response and a referral to someone else. It's the same with Landlords reporting problems with rogue agents. Until someone takes responsibility putting names on another list will change nothing.

    • 26 September 2013 12:29 PM
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    Are they going to introduce a national register for tenants to weed out the thousands of bad tenants who either don't pay the rent or trash properties? Or does this not fit in with their bash the landlord/agent agenda as it might affect their core vote!

    • 26 September 2013 11:00 AM
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    Both valid points. What most, if not all, politicians seem to realise is that aiming measures at those that comply will accomplaish nothing but an extra burden of regulation. Use the same resources and aim then at the problem, maybe with a simple yet dranconian punishment and the problem will dissipate.

    At the end of the day for an issue to change you actually have to do something not talk about it.

    • 26 September 2013 10:52 AM
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    The tax man is the Government isn't it - if not I've been paying my tax to a private company for the past 45 years.

    Long as any register of agents is also a compulsory register for private landlords I'm all for it.

    Most agents are bad enough, most private landlords whilst well meaning, are even worse.

    • 26 September 2013 10:33 AM
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    Another brainwave that any nefarious landlord will simply ignore

    • 26 September 2013 09:23 AM
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    Not even the tax man knows who all the landlords are let alone the government. Its generally the problem landlords that operate in the shadows without deposit protection, regulation, safety regulations, etc. not the honest landlord who would sign (presumably for a fee, and possibly an annual mot type inspection ?) to a register.

    This and the energy cap are just populist measures to ensure that they get in a position to be able to form a coalition, at which point they can get out of anything they wish by blaming the coalition agreement.

    • 26 September 2013 08:52 AM
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