Selective Licensing review recommends National register of Landlords

by Property 118

11:28 AM, 25th June 2019
About 3 weeks ago

Selective Licensing review recommends National register of Landlords

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Selective Licensing review recommends National register of Landlords

The Government’s Selective Licensing review, updated today, recommends a proposed National register of Landlords. Click here to download the document: ‘An independent review of the use and effectiveness of selective licensing.’

Point 6 of the recommendations summary states: “Government should consider introducing a national registration scheme for landlords to support and complement selective licensing.”

This would appear to be a U-Turn with Minister Heather Wheeler previously confirming last year: “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.”

RLA policy manager, John Stewart, said: “Ministers have repeatedly made clear that a national register of landlords would become an unnecessary and costly additional layer of bureaucracy. We agree. All it would become is a list of good landlords which brings us no closer to finding the crooks that operate under the radar.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “Select licensing has made a real difference to areas across the country. This report further demonstrates that with proper planning, consultation and implementation, these schemes can make a real difference to the quality of homes people live in. The report does highlight some important matters which require further consideration, and we will work with the sector to continue to understand their concerns before responding fully.”

Below is a summary of the recommendations from the report:

“Recommendations

The evidence presented in this review supports the overall recommendation that selective licensing should be retained. The research undertaken indicates that the effectiveness of selective licensing could be improved through implementation of the following further recommendations:

1. In its current form, selective licensing legislation precludes authorities from taking direct enforcement measures against landlords where issues of property condition (in particular significant hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System5) are discovered during a selective licensing inspection, despite licensing schemes often being introduced specifically to tackle such issues. To address this, Government should consider amending the mandatory licence conditions with which a landlord must comply to include a standard requirement on property condition that covers the absence of serious hazards, for example: “the landlord should ensure that the propertyis in such a condition as to comply with the condition obligation of a landlord under section 9A of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to let and keep a property fit for human habitation within the meaning of section 10 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985” Authorities should be permitted to enforce directly against this condition if prescribedhazards (or other matters set out in section 10) which amount to the property not being fit for human habitation are discovered during a selective licensing inspection (see paragraphs 8.19 to 8.48).

2. Government should consider issuing best practice/guidance as appropriate to support local authorities and improve the implementation of schemes. This best practice/guidance should seek to address the issues summarised in paragraphs 10.31and 10.32.

3. Government should consider adding to the specific exemptions from selective licensing schemes where the case can be made; such as purpose-built student accommodation that follows a Government approved code8 and non-profit charitable institutions that are not registered social housing providers.

4. Appropriate criteria that engage validation by the Secretary of State for all designations above a certain level should remain in place at a similar level to the current “20% of the privately rented sector (based on figures from census data) or 20% of total geographic area” threshold. However, Government should consider reviewing this threshold to ensure (see paragraphs 9.11 to 9.29): i. That it relates to up-to-date data sources in the absence of a recent census (but not necessarily private rented sector specific data – see iii); ii. That smaller authorities are not disadvantaged by the criteria; and iii. That it is not based on the current size of the private rented sector in a local authority, given the difficulties inherent in enumerating this accurately.

5. Government should explore options for a “light touch” process for authorities seeking to re-designate an area at the end of a period of licensing. This should apply where there is no substantive change proposed to the existing scheme; and should maintain a requirement for consultation.

6. Government should consider introducing a national registration scheme for landlords to support and complement selective licensing.

7. Government should explore alternatives to judicial review as the primary method of challenging a designation, as the process of judicial review can be prohibitively expensive.

8. Government should consider reviewing requirements for advertising upon designation to ensure they are appropriate; this should reflect the reduction in the circulation of existing newspapers and the widespread use of social media and other electronic formats for the dissemination of information.

9. Currently, in most cases, licenses are issued for a full five-year period regardless of the time remaining on the designation. Local authorities introducing new schemes should adopt the practice of charging the enforcement element of the licence fee on a prorated basis to allow this element of the charge to reflect the remainder of the designation period. This should only apply in cases where there is no evidence of a deliberate attempt to avoid applying for a licence.

10. Currently there is an extensive mandatory list of questions that must be asked on any licensing application. Government should consider allowing local authorities to streamline the licence application process for landlords by allowing local authorities to include on the application form only those questions that they consider relevant to their specific scheme.

11. Government should consider expanding the range of offences which can trigger a landlord failing the “fit and proper person” test as part of an application for a licence to include breaches of planning law.

12. Currently, local authorities with a selective licensing designation can investigate housing benefit and council tax data for the purpose of gathering intelligence about the private rented sector. Government should explore options for usefully expanding the range of data that can be shared with local authorities beyond this. This might include revising the appropriate guidance and legislation to take account of the introduction of universal credit.

Conclusions

The research overall indicates that selective licensing can be an effective and positive policy tool. There are a wide range of concrete examples of schemes achieving demonstrable positive outcomes. Furthermore, these schemes operate in a range of different ways dependent on local conditions and requirements, demonstrating that selective licensing offers the facility to provide a flexible framework to reflect local circumstances.

However, it is also clear that there is considerable variation in the effectiveness of individual selective licensing schemes: some do not achieve tangible, positive results to the same degree as others. The extent to which a scheme is integrated into wider local strategies appears to play a key role in its effectiveness.”



Comments

Mick Roberts

12:02 PM, 25th June 2019
About 3 weeks ago

Just come & ask us.
Hello I'm here.

All my tenants has had to have rent increase cause of Licensing.
Homeless in Nottingham is massive now cause of http://www.selectivelicensingtruth.co.uk
Tenants HB LHA UC Vulnerable tenants are near on impossible to be allowed into another Private Landlords house cause of the conditions Nottingham Selective Licensing have forced upon EXISTING tenants & Landlords.

Bad Landlords haven't come forward. Good Landlords Good houses good tenants, their houses have got worse. No doubt the minority (if they find 'em cause they han't come forward) bad Landlords houses would get better, but is it worth at the expense of the majority 81% good Landlords Good houses good tenants?

Bring it on Govt, more charges WHICH IF U WAKE UP ONE DAY GET PAID FOR BY THE TENANT.
RENT PAYS EVERYTHING! Please wake up to that fact.

That spokesman that says Licensing has made real difference, please come show us in Nottingham? Shall I take u to the Homeless department? Shall we go visit the B&B's? Shall we ask my tenants who's had to pay for it?
U not in the real world. U go to these councils & they tell u what u want to hear, come ask us on the ground u imbeciles.

Retain Licensing, increase the price on the 5 yearly renewal, watch what happens to rents, to people that's already living on beans on toast & can't afford to put the heating on.

U have made a sensible point in No. 9. We told u this 2 years ago. Why does it take u this long to say we was right?

I feel like going out to commit a criminal offence so I can be deemed unfit & unproper, so it's not me that's kicking my tenants out, but the Council forcing me to sell, so I can finally be rid all this rammel that is doing nothing, but making good houses worse.

They say research. Where? I'm biggest HB Landlord in Nottingham. No one has asked me. I have some mates with loads of HB too. No one has asked them.

Some text ready to send to my tenants when the Council want to slap some more charges on us, which applies to this latest fiasco too.

To the tenants that may want more legislation:
Make no mistake, your rent pays for everything around u. Don't let the Council & Govt kid u otherwise.
The Greedy Landlord spends your money and let's the house dilapidate and when u need big repair, he han't got it.
The sensible good with money Landlord puts any spare money after mortgage to one side and someone somewhere needs a boiler £1500, roof £4000, kitchen £3000, bathroom £1500, it can get done cause he's been sensible. And u eventually get that money back in the repair you've had done.
Licensing, if they wish to add £1400 to your house bill, then the rent will have to increase by approx £6pw to pay for this on top of the normal annual inflation increase.
U all had rent increases to pay for when they bought Licensing in.
I asked u all to oppose Licensing 5 years ago before they bought it in. None of u did. U r more active now u know they ain't made hardly any bad houses better and have just made good houses worse.

John Mac

12:07 PM, 25th June 2019
About 3 weeks ago

When will we ever get some joined up thinking from the Gov & Local Authorities on this. More Legislation & Selective Licensing schemes are NOT the answer, there is already more than enough legislation to deal with the very small minority of bad landlords. The problem is ENFORCEMENT, LA's simply do not have the resources or funds to enforce current legislation. Locally we used to have a "Landlord Liaison Dept" which I joined as a member many years ago. It was a voluntary scheme & to be/keep accredited your properties had to meet a minimum standard, due to Gov. cuts this dept no longer exists. It was there for Both LL's & T's.

As for a National Register - Well there is ALREADY one - just ask HMRC! Anybody renting a Property has to fill in the Income from Land & Property section SO the Gov already has a Record of all LL's ( save for the illegal under the radar LL's ).

Here is a radical idea - Bring Back the Local Landlord Scheme depts initially funded by Gov. Enforce the current legislation & anybody NOT complying can be fined, with fines increasing for further non compliance. Eventually the schemes could end up being self funded.

Simon M

12:16 PM, 25th June 2019
About 3 weeks ago

It's difficult to believe MCHLG did not indicate to the research team many of the conclusions they 'expected'. Selective licensing was supposed to be a targeted approach to problem areas, yet one of the conclusions is to create a national landlord database. The answer is always to add more bureaucracy.
228 pages - it's going to be a long read. I look forward to finding how the recommendations help landlords. MCHLG will point to NLA & RLA active involvement, so will look forward to their comments.

Rod

13:50 PM, 25th June 2019
About 3 weeks ago

Don't forget gentlemen, send an e-mail straight to the top ( Housing . Gov. U.K. ). I got a reply although it not the answer I was after!

Simon M

15:23 PM, 25th June 2019
About 3 weeks ago

The report (Page 92, para 11:20) describes RLA and NLA views as:
"Landlord groups were in favour of (National) registration since it would require landlords to treat renting properties in a more business-like fashion, improving the professionalism and reputation of the sector, and encouraging accreditation."
Think I might just see why they're in favour now....their membership fees

Michael Barnes

13:02 PM, 27th June 2019
About 3 weeks ago

remember that this report is not government policy (yet).


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