David Cameron has outlined plans for a nationwide mandatory landlord licensing scheme, in a speech on immigration given yesterday. Although the Prime Minister has revealed little detail on the scheme and how it would be implemented, the mere mention of private rental sector regulation has shaken many in the industry.
Cameron’s speech also announced that ‘Right To Rent’ immigration checks, carried out by landlords, were set for a national roll-out following a successful trial in the Midlands. Cameron claimed that in coalition, the Liberal Democrats had held them back from pushing through a nationwide ‘Right To Rent’ scheme and had insisted on a regional pilot to test the viability of such a scheme. However now, with a majority, the Conservatives will bring about nationwide implementation as soon as possible. Mr Cameron also announced that he intended to change the rules regulating tenancies to allow landlords to evict illegal immigrant tenants more quickly and easily.
The Prime Minister has claimed that a nationwide mandatory licensing scheme would allow the government to “crack down on unscrupulous landlords who cram houses full of illegal migrants”. However, licensing of HMOs with more than 5 tenants over 3 floors was introduced on a mandatory basis over a decade ago in the Housing Act 2004, and came into force 2 years later in April 2006 – so surely there are already measures in place to control such instances.
A small scale mandatory licensing scheme is already in operation across the whole of Liverpool after being introduced in April this year. The Liverpool initiative requires all landlords to have a 5 year license for each of their rental properties, with a license costing £400 for the first property, and £350 for every additional property – however this fee is reduced to £200 per property if the landlord is part of an approved Landlord Scheme. Critics of the government’s plans have claimed that the expensive fees attached to licensing systems will simply result in a worse deal for renters, as the added costs will be passed on to tenants in the form of rent rises.
Some commentators have welcomed the national licensing scheme as a better alternative to the confusing and disjointed system of local licensing schemes that is currently in operation. However others, like property expert and professional landlord Vanessa Warwick, believe that the solution lies in proper enforcement of existing legislation, rather than the introduction of an entirely new licensing system:
“I regard this as something of a bombshell! Ethical landlords are already offering a high standard of housing in the private rented sector. It is the “rogues” and criminal/gang landlords who are the problem. There is existing legislation to deal with them, but it is not enforced properly, so I see little point in introducing new legislation to control ethical landlords!
Mr Cameron needs to give greater powers and resources to local authorities to enforce existing legislation, rather than bring in new legislation that will be ignored by rogue landlords anyway.
Property Tribes will be seeking clarification from the Housing Minister on this “bolt of the blue” announcement and we urge all landlords to join our thread and have their say. Landlords need a voice, now more than ever before, otherwise they are going to be over-burdened with red tape and penalised financially for the actions of the few.”
– Vanessa Warwick, Landlord and Co-founder Property Tribes
More information on the roll-out of the nationwide scheme and how the government plan to implement it should be released over the coming weeks and months.
In the meantime we will be interested to see how the landlord community reacts to this initial shock announcement.
You can read David Cameron’s full immigration speech here
What do you think about the government’s plans for a national Landlord Licensing Scheme? Get involved and join the discussion on Twitter using #TheHouseShop and #LandlordLicensing.
by Franki Chaffin-Edwards