National register for private landlords to be launched
As part of its review of the private rented sector, the government is proposing a national register for buy-to-let landlords, as well as full regulation for private-sector letting agents.
[UKPRwire, Fri May 15 2009] As part of its review of the private rented sector, the government is proposing a national register for buy-to-let landlords, as well as full regulation for private-sector letting agents. The aim is to improve the quality of the sector “by increasing professionalism, driving out bad landlords and strengthening protection for tenants affected by repossessions”, said the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG).
The register would be run by an independent organisation and landlords would have to register annually for a small fee to cover administrative costs. It would be web-based and require minimal information, such as the name and address of the landlord and the property being let. In return, landlords would receive a unique landlord registration number which would be included on all tenancy agreements, court proceedings (including evictions), and housing benefit claims.
If a landlord was found to persistently perform badly, such as not protecting tenants’ deposits or not carrying out essential repairs, they could be removed from the register.
The government is also proposing the creation of an independent regulator for all letting and managing agents, who currently are not required to have professional credentials. This lack of oversight means that tenants have no redress when matters go wrong or disputes arise. The CLG aims to remedy this situation by providing a mechanism whereby tenants can register complaints about substandard landlords, which, if upheld, would result in the landlord being removed from the register.
The plans also include a change in the law to ensure that tenants receive at least two months’ notice if they have to leave their home due to the landlord’s property being repossessed.
Aspects of the proposed register has its critics. The National Landlords Association (NLA) is opposed to the requirement for landlords to submit details of their rental properties, saying that such a move would be “overly intrusive and of no direct benefit to tenants or landlords”. NLA chairman David Salusbury also said that “a similar compulsory landlord registration scheme has existed in Scotland for three years and has been shown not to work, with one in four rental properties not registered”.
Notwithstanding such objections and the additional red tape a national register would incur, proper regulation of the private rented sector can’t come soon enough for tenants who find themselves the victims of unscrupulous landlords and currently have no means of redress.
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