Prime Minister to introduce mandatory landlord licensing scheme

by David Asker

13:01 PM, 25th May 2015
About 4 years ago

Prime Minister to introduce mandatory landlord licensing scheme

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Prime Minister to introduce mandatory landlord licensing scheme

In his speech on the changes the Government is proposing with regards to immigration (expected to be included in the Queen’s speech next week), David Cameron has announced plans that will have a significant impact on landlords.david cameron

He has highlighted housing as one of the key ways in which illegal immigrants can be identified.

The proposals

There has been a pilot scheme running whereby landlords had to check that tenants were here legally. This will now be rolled out nationwide.

The Government also plans to cancel tenancies automatically at the same point when visas expire.
Apparently the Government will also change the rules so that landlords will be able to evict illegal immigrants more quickly.

But the big one is the new mandatory licensing regime. We don’t know what this will entail or who it will apply to – whether landlords or letting agents or, most probably, both.

What we do know is that it will undoubtedly add to the already considerable burden and pressure on landlords. It may also reduce the number of properties available to rent as landlords sell up.

Is this really the right approach?

There are some “unscrupulous landlords”, as Mr. Cameron calls them, who cram houses full of illegal migrants, but this is a minority. I do question whether a mandatory licensing scheme is the right approach to deal with this.

It seems too heavy handed and onerous on landlords, especially where there is a critical shortage in housing. The immigration status checks and ending of tenancies when visas expire is also additional administration and cost. passed down to landlords.

And if it’s going to be made easier for landlords to evict illegal immigrants, can Mr. Cameron please also make it easier for all landlords to evict tenants, regardless of their residency status, more quickly by allowing them to use High Court Enforcement Officers without the need to apply to the court for permission!

You can read the full transcript of the speech by following this link; https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-speech-on-immigration

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Comments

Mark Alexander

14:02 PM, 25th May 2015
About 4 years ago

I have read the entire speech and I have to say that I am proud to have voted Conservative.

I would like to think that any licensing scheme is as well thought out as this speech.

Will the new licence replace all other forms of licencing? I certainly hope so because the existing schemes simply create jobs for the boys in my humble opinion.

Will it be something similar to a driving licence? I hope so and would be all for something along the following lines:-

Provisional licence - landlord must attend a one day accreditation course by a certain date. This allows him/her to continue to legally operate as a landlord but only to let properties via an accredited agent. Portals to check that landlords are suitably accredited before accepting any advertising.

Full licence - this allows a landlord to manage his/her own properties. I think this should be qualification/CPD based.

Commercial licence - this allows a person to be responsible for the management of other peoples property subject to exam based qualifications, having PI insurance and Client Money Protection.

I'd also like to think licencing is no more expensive that a driving licence, or at worst the price of an annual TV licence. Gas Safety checks are effectively the MOT.

Fines for non-compliance with licensing or basic health and safety to be the responsibility of local authorities and any fines imposed to be paid back into the prosecuting local authority funds.

In my version of the licensing laws there would also be a fines and penalty points system applied which is akin to driving offences.

So that would be my basic manifesto for National Landlord licensing, what would yours be?
.

16:20 PM, 25th May 2015
About 4 years ago

As far as I'm concerned, all these talk about accreditation & licensing is all misplaced priorities. Is that what's going to solve the basic problem of housing? Why turn Landlords into immigration officers? It doesn't make sense. What are the immigration agencies for? What are the border agencies for?

I second the view of David Carter above:
It seems too heavy handed and onerous on landlords, especially where there is a critical shortage in housing. The immigration status checks and ending of tenancies when visas expire is also additional administration and cost. passed down to landlords.... What will start happening is that some landlords will start taking the law into their hands and harassing tenants.

All the above will be another waste of tax payers money and time. The problems we have that needs to be solved are:
1. THE UK HOUSING STOCK IS A JOKE. More affordable and meaningful homes ought to be built and sold to people who live and work in the UK
2. The construction companies are smiling to the bank at the expense of the buyers of new build properties

I recently viewed a new build one bed flat in the Pulse development in Colindale, NW9 London and I left the show-apartment feeling disgusted; the flat was up for sale at £285,000.00 and it barely had space to store clothes, shoes, jackets or drawers to keep dry food stuff in the kitchen. The blocks of flats are up to the 8-9th floor and you'd imagine how much money will be made by the construction companies after stacking up several flats (without parking space) on top of each other.

I'm not looking forward to the Speech at all, the hints I got about the full message of the speech wont solve any problem.

Luke P

12:26 PM, 26th May 2015
About 4 years ago

As pointed out on another thread (I think by a Trading Standards enforcement officer), it is not more legislation that is needed, as there's lots in place to deal with most scenarios that unscrupulous landlords will find themselves in, but rather resources (money) in order to enforce the existing rules! Make all the laws they want but with no-one to police them, it'll only be a handful of easy target cases where someone has made a genuine mistake rather than being properly dodgy) that will get caught. Rogues will not take any notice and will continue to operate.

Mandy Thomson

13:06 PM, 26th May 2015
About 4 years ago

I agree with everything that Mark Alexander has said above, except I would be wary of housing authorities having enforcement powers over landlords - I would like to see this handled centrally, to prevent LAs with an anti landlord agenda from unfairly discriminating against landlords.

A centrally administered scheme would be much more objective and fair, treating all landlords the same, without some landlords being subjected to the summary whims of local authorities.

Mark's outline scheme is an excellent idea. If you want to enter most other professions, you have to attain a certain standard - same with driving a car, so why should practising as a landlord be any different? Plenty of people still want to learn to drive, or become a nurse, a teacher or an electrician, for example.

I've always maintained that I don't have any objection to landlord licensing IN PRINCIPLE - I agree that our profession (which is exactly what it should be regarded as) lacks maturity, and as a result has been bombarded with various pieces of confusing ad hoc legislation in an attempt to raise standards, that have only made things worse in some cases.

Luke P

16:42 PM, 26th May 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "26/05/2015 - 13:06":

I'd go along with this, but I just don't ever think it will be policed properly and fairly. Other professions are steeped in cultural history. Whilst land lording is nearly as old as time itself, we're seen as very much a 'new money' industry. As an experienced agent, I believe my knowledge and skills are on par with that of any solicitor (and worth as much), but very few seem to recognise our collective expertise.

Jay James

21:46 PM, 26th May 2015
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "26/05/2015 - 13:06":

Brilliant Mandy.

"like to see this handled centrally"
"centrally administered scheme..... summary whims of local authorities"

A central department would certainly make consistency of operational decisions more likely.

It would also bring issues into a single focus that more readily comes under public scrutiny, (such as with the CSA or DWP). This would make managing and reacting to the biased output of organisations such as Shelter more possible.

Romain Garcin

22:02 PM, 26th May 2015
About 4 years ago

This just shows that voting these days is choosing the least of two evils.

There is no need for compulsory landlords licensing. This is just political posturing to appear tough on immigration.
I thought the Tories were against meddling by the State... Clearly not.

It is not landlords' jobs to be enforcing immigration laws, nor would it make any difference on immigration, legal or illegal.

The government has powers to limit immigration, if only from outside the EU. If they think that immigration is excessive then they should announce measures to that end.
Are they? No. They throw a smoke screen by picking on the PRS.
All the more so since the 'rent to right' law does anything that could be done.

If they wanted to make landlords 'walk the line' they would allocate more resources to those enforcing existing laws and regulations.
They are doing the contrary.

Recardo Knights

9:09 AM, 27th May 2015
About 4 years ago

I agree with Romain, needles meddling and enforcement to pay for licenses and courses that are not needed and only fill council coffers. Why should I have to loose time and money paying for a course I don't want, give me a test first or let the Gov pay for these essential courses to make me a better LL.

As a landlord of 13 years this will not make me a better landlord. I should not be responsible for immigration, or be expected to deal with anti-social behaviour on my own when the police and council do not want to assist.

We have regulations to follow and if these meddlers really cared they should crack down on the bad landlords, if a tenant of mine does not complain then leave me alone with quiet enjoyment.

Introduce a licenses for tenants instead and any complaint from them would put the landlord under investigation. A LL would not know there was a complaint against them as the authorities could say they work like the inland revenue and only do random investigations. Do they even know how many tenants are out there?

When all these new regulations come into force I will be selling up. The government does not employ or help me with my portfolio. They do not help with easy eviction of wrong doers. They charge me full rates on void tenancies, so no help, but want to treat me as an unpaid employee.

Right to buy from housing associations will be the next thing to blow up.... Why not give right to buy to tenants. The Council make up my losses, all tenants are now owners.. Happy days ahead.

Mark Alexander

10:37 AM, 27th May 2015
About 4 years ago

I agree that landlords should not be held to enforce immigration but I do think it is perfectly reasonable to make it illegal for landlords to rent to illegal immigrants. It is generally landlords who rent to this market that are responsible for over-crowding and unsafe living conditions which affect the reputations of good landlords.

With regards to the licensing proposals I have outlined, I stand by this because I would like to see standards raised in the PRS. Good landlords would obviously ace the courses I have suggested, as would good agents. However, my suggestions would enable authorities to weed out the criminal elements, provide measures to deal with them and also to educate newbies of their responsibilities. Lets face it, ignorance associated with newbies is probably a bigger cause of all bad feeling towards the PRS than the tiny proportion of real criminal operators.

You wouldn't expect to be able to drive a car, lorry or bus without proper licensing, supervision, training and insurance etc. without risk of prosecution so why should the provision of homes be any different?

I am sick to the back teeth of pointless schemes which rob good landlords of money to create jobs for the boys with no real benefits to anybody, and certainly no enforcement of those who fail to comply with existing laws. Fund raising and associated PR seems to be focussed on destroying the credibility of the PRS without actually raising standards.

My vision is that enforcement would be administered in a similar way to motoring offences, i.e. detection and income from fines is localised but fines are set prescriptively in relatively minor cases and by the judiciary for more serious offences.

Some examples:-

No Gas Safety Certificate is equal to no MOT
No landlord licence whatsoever is similar to no driving licence whatsoever
Unsafe property is similar to unsafe vehicle
Operating a letting agency without the correct licence is similar to driving an HGV or a PSV without the correct licence
Causing death or injury due to property negligence is similar to causing death or injury by reckless driving
Overcrowding a property is similar to carrying more passengers than a vehicle was designed to carry
Illegal eviction is similar to reckless driving
Etc. etc. etc.

On the flip side I think criminal damage to a landlords property or failure to pay rent should be prosecuted as standard (as it is in hotels) and that failure of tenants to leave a property within 7 days of a Court Order should be a criminal offence.

It's time for change!
.

Tim Fenn

9:24 AM, 30th May 2015
About 4 years ago

Hi,
I love Marks Idea, I would carry my landlords licence with pride, id happily take the courses.
This may be a great way for us to start to be seen as professionals by Local councils, they don't argue with with surveyors, solicitors and other people who are professionally qualified. I always feel we are treated as chancers and people trying to make a fast buck.
We seem smart enough to come up with our scheme and offer that to the government?

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