Monday, 1 October 2012

Private Landlords - regulation and why a licensing fee is required

Landlord Licensing has been brought in to part of Hyndburn's to regulate the private sector after years of  self regulation through landlord accreditation scheme failed to improve standards. Not surprising to the vast majority of people I speak to.

Local landlords appear now to have two grievances with the scheme. Good landlords are being included and why do they have to pay a £700 fee for a 5 year licence.

I would make these points;

1) The provision in the Private Rented Sector is terrible and the voluntary Landlord Accreditation Scheme failed to galvanise the industry (in Hyndburn) into doing anything about it.
Regulation has therefore been put in place because of irresponsibility.In legislative terms, to deal with low demand or/and anti social behaviour.

2) It is not fair and totally unreasonable for the poor old Council Tax payer to have pay any of the £700 licence fee when it is landlords who have are wholly responsible for the problem. The law clearly states Councils cannot make a surplus through charging, they can only cover reasonable staffing costs for managing a scheme. It's landlords or council tax payers, someone has to pay.

3) The hard pressed Council tax payer has for years picked up the costs of bad, amateur and long distance landlords (and still will outside of the licensed area); (i) investigating complaints from evasive/secretive landlords, (ii) having to do legal safety checks (HHSRS), (iii) dealing with all the consequences of anti social tenants behaviour including blighting communities which the Council then has to pay for. (iv) having to pay for searching for evasive landlords whose properties blight streets, taken them to court and ensure compliance afterwards.

4) The idea that good landlords are being punished will require a definition and assessment of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ landlord. No landlord describes themselves as a ‘bad’ landlord yet many are, even ones who boast of being a ‘good’ landlord. It’s a ludicrous argument when you begin to give it even the slightest thought. Not only that, properties and tenants change, it’s a moving issue. In simply defining a good and bad landlord, all landlords will need to be assessed. I understand that the accredited landlords previously are to be given some beneficial incentive.

5) The law seeks to improve a landlords responsibility, even good landlords do not know whether they will house an anti-social tenant or whether the accumulative impact of too many landlords will drag down an area. Anti-social behaviour and low demand being the pillars of the legislation, not stock condition. In both respects, being a good landlord in the past has nothing to do with the the law or the scheme. It is 'a protection' for the community going forward. It has nothing to do with individual landlords, individual properties and whether they are have been good or bad in the past.