Register of landlords is ditched

Nia Williams

June 10, 2010

Earlier in the week, the Minister had suggested that a national register could well be “another HIPs” and would not encourage further investment in the private-rented sector.

Today, he went on to make a “promise to good landlords across the country: the Government has no plans to create any burdensome red tape and bureaucracy, so you are able to continue providing a service to your tenants”.

Commenting, David Salusbury, chairman, NLA, said: “We wholeheartedly welcome the reminder from Government that the vast majority of tenants are happy with the service they receive from landlords. Of course, from the outset, the NLA believed that a national register of landlords, although well-meaning, was flawed. Today, the Government has confirmed our stance.

“We are very pleased that the Government is rejecting previous attempts to introduce a register: it was the wrong way to go about raising standards in the private-rented sector and would not have rooted out rogue landlords. In fact, we believe the likely consequence could have been to penalise the law-abiding, while at the same time driving the worst landlords under the radar.”

As part of today’s announcement, the Government confirmed they would not be bringing forward any of the planned programme of changes proposed by the previous Government. These changes included:

• New housing hotline offering free help and advice for private tenants.

• ‘Trip adviser’ style word-of-mouth website comparing landlords.

• Requirement for written tenancy agreements in all tenancies.

• National register of landlords.

• Full regulation of letting and managing agents.

Ian Potter, operations manager of the Association of Residential Lettings Agents, said: “We are extremely disappointed with the Housing Minister’s decision to scrap the previous Government’s plans for the regulation of letting agents. This move risks seriously hampering the improvement of standards in the Private Rented Sector, the sector’s reputation, and the fundamental role it plays in the wider housing market as well as failing to protect the consumer who has nowhere to go when there is service failure or fraud. A minimum requirement must be surely be consumer redress and protection of all funds taken from the public not just tenants deposits.

“We have long campaigned for the introduction of compulsory regulation of lettings agents, along the same lines as our own member-led licensing scheme launched last year. Currently, any person or organisation can become a letting agent. Until that is changed via national regulation, unprofessional, unqualified and unethical operators will continue to exist, to the detriment and expense of consumers and the market as a whole.

“The only option now is for the consumer to look for an agent which has signed up to voluntary redress and has client money protection; by doing so they would at least have a degree of protection not offered by many agents operating on the high street. We note however that the Minister has not closed the door and look forward to the opportunity to have meaningful dialogue with him in the future.”

Matt Hutchinson, director, flat and house-share website Spareroom.co.uk, disagreed, saying: “We welcome Mr Shapps decision to scrap new regulation for private landlords, in particular the former Government’s plans for a national register of landlords. Clearly steps have to be taken to reign in the few rogue landlords out there, but heavy handed over-regulation of the whole sector was never the right approach. Letting local authorities regulate their own areas makes sense so long as departments have the right level of training to deal with the issues, and landlords know where to go to get definitive answers to their questions.”

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