Rush to regulate cash-cow landlords

AFS Team·31 May 2013·3 min read
Rush to regulate cash-cow landlords
As new proposals to regulate private landlords pour out of think-tanks, councils and housing organisations, it may be time for landlords to ask if they are been seen as a cash-cow in times of public austerity.

In the past few days, polemic about ‘rogue landlords’ has come from housing charity Shelter, the Labour Party and even the Electrical Safety Council.

Meanwhile, the National Landlords Association (NLA) wants all members to become accredited by 2020.

While there is no doubt that out of the 1.5 million or so landlords, some are bound to be rogues; the prosecution figures from councils belie this.

Around 300 landlords are prosecuted every year, mainly in relation to failing to licence and manage houses in multiple occupation (HMO).

The figures actually show 300 landlords make up just 0.02% of all landlords. Even if the figure tripled to 1,000 landlords prosecuted in a year, the percentage would still only be 0.067% of the total.

Perhaps the real reason behind outcry is that the organisations calling for change want to financially benefit from running a national landlord register, and regulating landlords and letting agents.

Accreditation and affiliation to a landlord body starts from £100 a year.

Scotland has run a national landlord register for some years.

Between 2006 and 2012, the register returned the following results:
• 11 landlords were prosecuted – 0.005% of the total of 200,000 registered
• 40 were refused a licence (0.02%)
• Landlords paid £11.2 million in registration fees
• The Scottish Government spent £5.2 million to set up the register
• Running the register costs around £50,000 a year

The figures come from an official report to the Scottish Government.

Jack Dromey MP, Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, said: "The private rented sector has an important role in meeting housing need. But too many tenants are in poor and sometimes dangerous homes.

"That’s why Labour has set out proposals to drive standards up and bad landlords out. Bad housing harms health and dangerous housing can kill.

"We want to see all families enjoying a decent home, at a price they can afford. While the majority of landlords are responsible, there can be no place in future for homes that are damp, cold and unfit to bring children up, holding them back at school."