Landlords call for voluntary schemes – to let councils go after rogues

A new system of “co-regulation” for the private rented sector is being proposed ahead of May’s General Election.

It is part of a “manifesto” being launched in Westminster this morning by the Residential Landlords Association.

The RLA is suggesting that landlords in all local authority areas could sign up to voluntary accreditation schemes run by industry bodies.

This would free up the resources of local councils to target those landlords who had not signed up – and who are more likely to be rogues operating under the radar.

Local councils should also be encouraged to use the legal resources already available to them to bring prosecutions. They should employ other resources to identify landlords unknown to them – for example, by introducing new Council Tax forms by which tenants could say whether they were living in rental accommodation and who their landlord was.

The RLA believes that such schemes would be far more effective, and cheaper on the public purse, than mandatory licensing schemes or a compulsory national register of landlords.

Alan Ward, chairman of the RLA, said: “Faced with financial and staffing pressures, local authorities need a genuine intelligence based approach to enforcing regulations robustly.

“A national register of landlords would simply become a register of good landlords. No criminal operator would ever willingly make themselves known.

“Our proposal would be more effective. The criminals could not evade scrutiny, and where tenants were unable to identify their landlord, this would provide councils with the information they need to target properties of concern – a truly intelligence based approach.”

Other key recommendations in the manifesto include:

* New measures to encourage investment in homes to rent, including changes to planning regimes and tax changes that could be used also to encourage the sale of rental properties to first-time buyers.

* More rigorous enforcement of powers to tackle the small minority of criminal operators who bring the sector into disrepute.

* A new right for tenants to renew their tenancies for up to five years after a preliminary period.

The manifesto is here

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