An independent review into the use and effectiveness of Selective Licensing has seen the suggestion that landlords should be made to sign a national register.
The suggestion of national registration has been circulating in one form or another for several years. Perhaps most publicly, it was the recommendation of Rugg and Rhodes detailed 2008 review of the private rented sector (The Rugg Review). Ultimately, the proposal received a mixed reception, and the Government decided against it.
A more recent review from Rugg and Rhodes however was alluded to in the report on the use and effectiveness of Selective Licensing. It suggests fundamental changes to how the private rental sector is regulated; including proposals for the establishment of a national landlord and letting agent register. It also suggests that all rental properties should be independently confirmed as being fit for letting.
Under these proposals, every landlord would be made to sign the national register in order to be able to legally let a property. This would see landlords issued with a registration number which would need to be presented in every letting related transaction.
All rental properties would also be subjected to a ‘property MOT’, in order to indicate the property has passed an independent test and is deemed worthy to let.
The suggestion of a national register however has already been rebuked by Conservative ministers previously. Heather Wheeler, Minister of the PRS, last commented on the matter: “The Government does not support a mandatory register of private landlords.
“The majority of landlords provide decent and well managed accommodation and requiring those landlords to sign up to a national register would introduce an unnecessary and costly additional layer of bureaucracy.”
Given the Government’s ongoing path to clamp down on rogue landlords and letting agents (at the expense of compliant landlords and letting agents), the move seems like something that would be in their favour.
What would the positives of a National Register be?
The positives are mainly theoretical. By signing up to a register, landlords would be further demonstrating their compliance and commitment to providing safe homes to tenants in the rental sector. But it cannot be stressed enough that this is already the majority case; with only the rogue and ill-intentional landlords and letting agents instilling a bad image. As they already continue to operate illegally and unethically, the introduction of a register would simply fail to deter them; given the amount of legislation already in place that currently fails to do so.
Whilst it would also give tenants peace of mind that they are renting a safe and suitable property, there would also likely be a cost for landlords to join the register. A cost that inevitably ends up absorbed by tenants in higher rental payments or other methods that are permitted by the Tenant Fees Act.
And the negatives?
It is estimated that there are 4.5 million households in the private rented sector in the UK. For the proposed property ‘MOT’s to be carried out effectively and efficiently, a vast array of roles would have to be created to monitor and ensure the adherence for these properties. Whilst this would be an excellent move for employment generation, it means an average of 12,328 properties would have to undergo the inspections every day. The feasibility of this happening already seems doubtful before you take into consideration the inevitable cuts that would be made down the line.
The Residential Landlord’s Association (RLA) also believe that the register will be a determent to those it has been proposed to help. RLA fear that the register will drive up costs and and increase red tape for compliant landlords offering safe homes; all whilst those letting properties illegally and unethically continue to operate under the radar.
So what is the reality of the register ever being implemented?
As already mentioned, there are ministers and also associations that have voiced their concerns regarding the implementation of a landlord register. The report is only a suggestion and not a binding matter, meaning the Government are not forced to act upon it and introduce it in the coming months or years.
Ultimately the Government are doing their best to clamp down on rogue landlords whilst claiming they are doing their best to nurture and prolong tenancies. Whilst the register would be tailored to suit both these categories, the sheer amount of people power required to ensure the register runs efficiently seems chaotic and unrealistic.
What doesn’t seem to be considered in many instances where proposals such as these are made is that the majority of landlords are compliant. As we tend to mention all too often, the minority of unethical landlords and indeed letting agents are the ones to ensure we are all tarred with very much the same brush.
As we strive to ensure we stand out from the illegal and unethical letting agents, part and parcel of this role is to guarantee our landlords are ethical and compliant; whilst ensuring you have complete control of your time and powered property profits.
If you’re looking to remain up-to-date with the latest changes in regulations in the rental sector, or to rest assured your property is in safe hands with thorough and compliant management, give us a call on 0161 883 2525.