04 June, 2009
Unlike celebrity game shows, accruing points on the proposed national register of landlords would not be beneficial to the participating landlords. The plan, which is presently at the consultation stage, is designed to promote greater transparency and accountability in the private rented sector and attempt to avoid 'rogue' landlords from operating.
Following the work carried out by Dr Julie Rugg into the workings of this sector in 2008, the Government has produced a proposal for a national register to landlords to be created and for an independent regulator to be introduced to police all lettings and management agents. This is a direct response to the problems identified in the 2008 review, which concluded that the existing regulations were ineffective as local authorities had found it difficult to monitor private landlords.
In order to become a registered member, a private landlord may have to show to a relevant local authority or regulator that they are suitable to be letting properties and that they maintain good standards in each of the premises.
One of the key ideas that have been forwarded in this consultation is the mandatory licensing of the privately rented sector as a whole. The effect of this could be that every private landlord in the county, regardless of how many properties they own, would have to be in possession of a licence from their local authority in order to continue operating. This may bring its own costs in terms of time and money through completing all the relevant paperwork.
Another proposal has been that sub-standard landlords could have their licences removed, in addition to the management of their properties. Landlords who break the rules may have three or six points placed upon their licence in the same manner as driving licences and similarly, reaching a certain number would mean it is lost. It has also been suggested that a landlord would be banned for two years, but could appeal or seek help in order to regain their licence.
The consultation has also put forward the notion of a readily available 'shop window' of landlords who meet all of the requirements and have a valid licence, but with no public naming of poorly performing landlords.
These proposals forwarded by the Government have the potential to significantly alter the entire private rented sector. The effects upon landlords could be substantial and mean that the area is far more regulated. Landlords have until 31 July 2009 to voice their opinions on the issues.