Government selective licensing review backs creation of national landlord register

A Government-commissioned review into selective licensing has backed the creation of a national landlord register.

The review described selective licensing as an “effective policy tool” but has recommended a range of reforms.

The Opinion Research Services review suggests a national landlord register would help complement selective licensing schemes and provide easy access to data on who should have a licence.

The research highlights a lack of data on the rental sector as a key problem with effective licensing and enforcement.

It said: “A national registration scheme would go a long way toward solving these data related problems.

“Such as scheme would allow for far more accurate enumeration of the private rented sector at the planning stage and would facilitate the ongoing identification of unlicensed properties in an active designation. These factors would increase the effectiveness of any selective licensing scheme significantly.

“As such, national registration would at the very least complement and support selective licensing.”

The review authors said they were not tasked with recommending how such as scheme would work but added that there is “significant appetite for such an initiative”.

It is unclear whether this would apply to lettings agents, but it is believed they may fall out of the scope as they would be eventually be covered by new regulations in the sector.

Other recommendations include amending the mandatory licence conditions to include a standard requirement on property condition that covers the absence of serious hazards and introducing a “light touch” process to renew existing schemes.

The document also suggests letting local authorities charge for the enforcement element of the licence fee on a prorated basis to reflect the remainder of the designation period.

Responding to the recommendations, John Stewart, policy manager for the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), said a register would not work.

He said: “Ministers have repeatedly made clear that a national register of landlords would become an unnecessary and costly additional layer of bureaucracy.

“We agree. All it would become is a list of good landlords which brings us no closer to finding the crooks that operate under the radar.

“Selective licensing has become a replacement for lost central Government funding and provides no assurances to tenants about the quality of accommodation.

“Properties do not need to be inspected before a landlord is given a licence and the RLA has found that many councils are charging eye-watering sums of money for almost nothing in return.

“Local authorities need the will and the resources to put real effort into finding the criminal landlords who never come forward to make themselves known.

“That means using a range of information they can already access including council tax returns, information on tenancy deposits and benefit data to root out the minority of landlords who bring the sector into disrepute.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “Select licensing has made a real difference to areas across the country. This report further demonstrates that with proper planning, consultation and implementation, these schemes can make a real difference to the quality of homes people live in.

“The report does highlight some important matters which require further consideration, and we will work with the sector to continue to understand their concerns before responding fully.”

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/809757/Selective_Licensing_Review_2019.pdf

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15 Comments

  1. jeremy1960

    Government making a u turn? Surely not! Never heard of such a thing!

    The only u turns government should make is to u turn on s24,  u turn on tenant fee ban, u turn on 3% stamp duty surcharge , u turn on a lot of the unnecessary red tape etc etc etc.

     

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    1. JMK

      Legal & Tax Changes The Letting Industry Has Had Imposed In The Last 4 Years (some are currently proposed)

      1.       S24 (disallowing of finance costs)
      2.       Additional 3% SDLT on property purchase
      3.       Premium of 8% CGT when selling property
      4.       Banning of letting agent fees
      5.       Halving of lettings relief
      6.       Prospective banning of ‘No DSS’ wording in adverts
      7.       Promised banning of S21 notice
      8.       Growing trend of councils charging hefty licence fees per property
      9.       Changes to HMO regs including minimum room sizes
      10.   Right to rent checks (now shown to be discriminatory and there is no guidance on how to deal with EU immigrants)
      11.   Benefit tenants migrated to UC causing lengthy delays in rent payments and often substantial arrears
      12.   Deregulation Act
      13.   Scrapping of Wear & Tear allowance
      14.   Introduction of EPC minimum requirements (even on HMOs) which can be difficult to meet with older properties
      15.   Unfit for human habitation legislation
      16.   CO detectors must be fitted
      17.   100%+ council tax on properties being refurbished between tenancies.  Not even the 25% single person discount
      18.   Substantial increases in court costs for use of S8, thus making S21 more popular
      19.   Membership of compulsory redress scheme for agents (and most likely for landlords soon)
      20.   Limit on amount of deposit we’re allowed to take
      21.   Rogue landlord database
      22.   Proposed 3 year minimum tenancies though not sure what the value of this would be with the abolition of S21
      23.   Some councils now charging council tax on HMO rooms

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      1. mlettings

        Great piece of work JMK.  It has certainly been a fast-moving period with more to come. I don’t think a national database for landlords is a bad thing.

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      2. CountryLass

        I agree with 9, 15, 16 and the idea of 21. Minimum room sizes are good, it stops people paying through the nose of a box room. There should be minimum standards for a residential property, as long as LA properties are up to the same standard, and it would be nice if there were a grant available for those of us who own our own homes to use to make sure ours meet that minimum standard. And the CO monitors are also a good thing.

        The rogue landlord database was also a good idea, even better if everyone could see it…

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        1. JMK

          I disagree on the minimum room sizes Country Lass.  Nobody is forced to rent a room but some will have a tight budget.  Small rooms rent for less than bigger ones and it may be all they can afford.  There’s also the point about contractors who have a home elsewhere but may just need somewhere during the week that has a bed.  They’re now being forced to rent larger rooms that they just don’t need.

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  2. LetItGo

    Selective licensing would bring an end to dodgy Landlords renting properties that are not fit for purpose with not paperwork in place and deposits in their back pockets. When are the government going to realise that its not agents that are managing the majority of ‘bad’ properties, its private landlords without any idea or regard for the legislation thats crippling a professional industry? You only have to look at the plethora of Landlord forums to realise most dont have a clue.

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    1. Will2

      Like some so called professional letting agents then? There are a lot of landlords that have a high degree of skill and knowledge as there are some excellent and well run letting agents. How many agents actually do their sign up at the property so smoke alarms can be tested on the day (in front of the tenants) to make sure they work? Do you?

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    2. Vanessa Warwick

      Interesting comment about landlord forums by LetItGo.  Considering forums are all about an exchange of knowledge, its hardly surprising that you will find landlords asking questions on them. I would say that anyone seeking to increase their knowledge should be commended not derided. No one can ever know it all, we can never learn less and none of us is as smart as all of us, which is why landlord forums play an important role in education of landlords and that assists with raising standards in the PRS.

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      1. DarrelKwong43

        I agree to an extent Vanessa, but the knowledge of landlords as a whole is pretty poor, and I have done London Landlord Accreditation training and Rent Smart Wales sessions.

        IMHO, I think Rent Smart Wales is not a bad idea, if you want to self manage, then you need to be educated and attend regular training. If not, then you must use a professional and qualified agent.   Lots of things that could be improved with RSW, but overall it is trying to professionalise our industry.

         

         

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        1. Hillofwad71

          The training  for Rent Smart Wales for landlords amounts to a little romp with  a few basic topics online  with multiple choice  answers which you either answer correctly or incorrectly giving you the”correct “answer  .
           
          Then regurgitated into an exam with the same questions  . Literally from starting the course to completing   the exam and either pass or fail  in a  hour and a bit and thats  it . Cough up some dosh and you are ;licenced and you get a nice little credit card  style licence .
           
              Really doesn’t professionalise anything  or help landlords and tenants . All it seems to do is take money off you.
          As Rosbeck said all they seem interested in getting members of the public to report those who havent coughed up for a licence and try and fine them like overzealous  traffic wardens .
           
            The interests of tenants seem to come low down in the  pecking order That will do nicely sir !!        

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          1. jeremy1960

            What registration and licensing does us build up a database that if used correctly can be used to disseminate and circulate legislation changes and information.  Many landlords who attend the courses have limited knowledge but walk away knowing they will be kept updated. The issue as always are the landlords who stay under the radar until caught!

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  3. RosBeck73

    We already have this in Wales.

    It’s useless. Just another layer of bureaucracy. In true Kafkaesque style, the only people they target for any action is people who don’t have licences. Farcical and does nothing to improve anything for anyone.

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  4. Deltic2130

    Now, as pro-landlord as I am, I’m going to put the cat among the pigeons. My first position is that I’m against all licensing. But these days that would be an unrealistic scenario, so as a back-up, I’d say Selective Licensing as it stands on an area by area basis and on each house is wrong. I’ve always said that if we have to have licensing at all, it should be on a single nationwide licence that covers all resi property, much like a drivers licence. To be a licence holder you would have to undertake a recognised 10-hr/yr accreditation scheme or be with an agent who is a member of a recognised body. The licence should be a reasonable charge and covers all your houses so that if any breach is discovered, your overall licence would be at risk. This takes a shedload of work off the local authority and they can get back to regular enforcement which is woefully under-utilised. Licensed landlords could escape Section 24, and those not licensed become more identifiable for pursuit. Mix it in with needing a licence for a mortgage or insurance application and voila! – most bad landlords are immediately hamstrung and marginalised. Only concern I’d have is what level of information would be made public, but other than that I’m happy with it IF it replaces the house-by-house system we have now.

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    1. CountryLass

      That seem fair and obvious, so it most likely won’t be considered…
       
      Shame as it would probably work! Especially if you had a two tier system (like a manual or automatic only license) where you need a basic one if your properties are managed by a licensed Agent, and a more comprehensive one if you are going to manage it yourself.

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  5. Scottish_Mist42

    As with most things mooted by Westminster, we’ve already got this in Scotland.  Landlord registration was introduced in 2004 and it required all residential landlords to sign up.  For many years it was, in my opinion, an utter failure.  This was due to little or no resources being allocated by local authorities to actually following up or checking on landlords.  It is better now, but for the first 10 years in my humble opinion was a complete waste of money and time.

     

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