The national register would be run by an independent organisation and landlords (or their agents) would have to register every year, "paying a small fee to cover administration costs." In return, landlords would receive a unique landlord registration number to be used in tenancy agreements, court proceedings including eviction, and housing benefit claims.
The most controversial part of the national register would be the requirement for all landlords to submit details of their property holdings at the time of registration and re-registration each year. A similar compulsory landlord registration scheme has existed in Scotland for three years and has been shown to not work with one in four rental properties not registered. This means that good landlords are still suffering at the hands of the minority of rogue landlords who bring the entire sector into disrepute. There has been no direct benefit for good landlords and tenants in Scotland as there are reported to be many instances of local authorities aware of unregistered landlords and doing nothing about them due to lack of resources.
David Salusbury, Chairman said:
"It is possible to see some benefit to a ‘no hurdle’, low-cost, easy-to-use register for landlords as part of a concerted drive to root out rogue operators. However, the NLA would be opposed to the collection of rental property addresses. We consider this to be overly intrusive and of no direct benefit to tenants or landlords.
"The private-rented sector is already heavily regulated and many recent changes have yet to settle down. Any further regulation, therefore, has to be very carefully considered. In the current economic climate, the last thing good landlords need is to feel penalised. If a register is introduced it needs to focus totally on pushing up standards and rooting out rogue landlords. We will be looking for assurances that a register would be properly resourced and be of direct and immediate benefit to landlords and tenants.
"Any changes must not be seen as the ‘thin end of the edge’ in terms of further, burdensome regulation. Reform must be workable for landlords and not damage the private-rented sector. The challenge now for Government should be to focus on incentives and encouragement."
Other proposals include:
– All tenancies should take the form of written agreements.
– Increasing the threshold for access to assured shorthold tenancies (AST) and the associated legislative framework from £25,000 to £100,000 of aggregated annual rent.
– Full mandatory regulation of letting and management agents by an independent body.
– Encouragement of institutional investment in the sector by creating opportunities to invest on a large scale and for the long term. This would include the introduction of a long-term funding model for new private rented housing in England.
– Development of a more sophisticated and disaggregated understanding of the sector in terms of improving the evidence base upon which decisions are made.
– Staff in voluntary organisations – Shelter, CAB etc. – should attend training in private rented sector housing management.
– Encouragement to landlord organisations to make support and training services more widely available to enable better understanding of what is involved in "truly professional private rented sector housing management."
– Local authorities should be actively encouraged to explore ways in which to improve their engagement with private landlords in their areas.
– Making accreditation available to all landlords wherever they operate. Consideration should also be given to whether a national accreditation scheme should be established.
– Increasing protection for tenants whose landlord defaults on a mortgage.
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