Shelter has warned that ‘accidental landlords’ need to be more engaged in the rental sector.
Writing as part of a collection of essays to mark the Residential Landlord Association’s (RLA) 20th anniversary, Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, suggested “disengagement” and “lack of awareness” among those who did not intentionally become landlords had serious consequences for tenants.
She said the sector is often seen as divided between rogue landlords and the prfoessionals who would typically also be part of the RLA.
But Neate added: “I’m increasingly thinking about those landlords whose behaviour and attitudes exist in the space between the RLA members and the ‘rogues’.
“The ones for whom becoming a landlord was necessitated by circumstance and wasn’t a conscious decision, the ones who have no interest in finding out more about the responsibility of providing another person’s home.
“These landlords may not be wilfully exploitative, but their disengagement and lack of awareness have serious consequences for their tenants and the lives being built in their properties. It is an enormous responsibility to be a landlord and it isn’t something that should be done half-heartedly.”
Neate said she hoped Shelter and the RLA can reach more of those ‘in-between’ landlords and “create a sector which is fully equipped across the board to provide the long-term, stable, good quality homes that are the foundation of wellbeing for individuals, families, communities and our society.”
The RLA publication also includes essays from Martin Partington, chairman of The Dispute Service, who accuses civil servants and politicians of not taking the rental sector seriously, while Luke Murphy, associate director at the Institute for Public Policy Research also calls for tax incentives for landlords who invest in the upgrade of the quality or energy efficiency of their property.
The essays were launched at an RLA parliamentary event this week attended by housing secretary James Brokenshire and the shadow housing secretary, John Healey.
Brokenshire said: “I want to congratulate the RLA on 20 years of hard work helping make the private rented sector better for everyone.
“This is a vision shared by government and is why we have taken action to raise standards in the sector and protect tenants from substandard accommodation and unfair charges.
“There is much more still to be done to ensure everyone has a decent and safe home, and I look forward to continuing our work alongside the RLA in the months and years to come.”
Alan Ward, chairman of the RLA, said: “The RLA’s 20th anniversary provides an opportunity to take stock of where the private rented sector now is, and where we all want it to go.
“All the contributors recognise the importance of the sector in providing homes to many millions of people.
“As we go forward we need to ensure the sector works for tenants and good landlords alike, whilst rooting out the criminals who have no place in a modern rental market.”