Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Mandatory Licensing for Landlords Moves Closer

Mandatory licensing for landlords throughout Great Britain continues to move closer. Scotland already has mandatory licensing for landlords and now the Welsh Government has issued a White Paper which will require all landlords to register.

In England Newham Council has completed the first phase of its plan to introduce mandatory licensing throughout the borough – a plan that is being closely monitored by other local authorities.
The last Labour Government looked closely at mandatory licensing but chose not to introduce it. The current Government say that they have no plans to introduce such a scheme. But it now seems that many local councils will introduce mandatory licensing no matter what Government may think.

Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, said about the first phase of licensing: "We want this to be just the start. Good landlords have nothing to fear from this scheme. For the bad ones, this a clear message they must clean up their act”.
This is despite Newham already having access to around 70 pieces of legislation they could use against bad landlords. Newham have not explained why they are not robustly using existing legislation to tackle what they clearly believe is a serious problem of bad landlords.

Kay Boycott, director of communications, policy and campaigns at Shelter, said: "We are delighted to hear that Newham Council could be introducing this scheme, which would help protect vulnerable tenants from rogue landlords who are making their tenants' lives hell”.
Landlords will note the use of the emotive phrase ‘rogue landlords’ which ties in neatly with the current Shelter campaign called Evict Rogue Landlords.

At the same time landlords will note, without any surprise at all, that neither Newham or Shelter have announced any plans to help landlords deal with bad tenants.
Whilst everyone would agree that eradicating bad landlords would be of great benefit to the vast majority of good landlords throughout Great Britain, it is difficult to view these schemes as anything more than a money raising exercise for local authorities at the expense of landlords.

What Newham and Shelter seem to fail to recognise is that landlords will have to pass the cost of licensing on to tenants. They also seem to fail to understand that this will also put people off becoming landlords. Ultimately this will only serve to increase costs and reduce options for tenants. This is at a time when the country is crying out for more decent, affordable housing.
The whole landlord licensing exercise is one-sided. It assumes that there are only rogue landlords and that there are no rogue tenants. Only landlords need licensing according to councils like Newham and bodies like Shelter and the CAB. There is no initiative to license or regulate tenants.

As our Facebook campaign ‘The Damage that Some Tenants Do’ showed there is a significant minority of tenants who cause massive damage to rental properties costing landlords £ millions a year. This is ignored by councils like Newham and campaigns like Shelter’s Evict Rogue Landlords.
To help landlords and letting agents identify bad tenants NetRent will shortly launch a brand new service. Landlords and agents will be able to register good and bad tenants on a nationwide database which fully meets Data Protection and Human Rights legislation.

This database will be free of charge and open to every landlord and agent in the UK. We will also be working with our business partner to offer this service to every local authority in the country. We believe that this database will be of huge benefit to landlords, agents and tenants and will help start and maintain a partnership between good landlords and tenants that is so desperately needed.
Good landlords, good agents and good tenants working together – this is just what the UK lettings industry needs – not more cost and regulation. Our next newsletter will bring you full details of this exciting new service and how you can join to make the whole industry better for everyone involved in it.