A leading independent think tank and a leading London mayor have called for councils across the UK to be given powers to implement selective licencing schemes of any size without sign-off by the Secretary of State.
Following legislative changes during the early noughties, the secretary of state - currently Michael Gove - must approve or reject any selective scheme in England that covers more than 20% of a council's housing stock.
But the Centre for London, which says it is '�fiercely independent' of political influence, now says the government should restore the power to design and implement selective licensing schemes to local authorities, regardless of scheme size.
Newham's Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz (main picture) says: 'While the Government has published its Renters' Reform Bill, with plans to end Section 21 '�no fault' evictions and increase regulation of the sector; we need to go further as outlined in this welcomed Centre for London report.'�
She believes that selective licensing is one of the most valuable tools councils have to address poor standards and conditions in London's private rented sector, and for landlords to 'demonstrate that their property is suitable for living in and managed to an acceptable standard'�.
Fiaz adds: 'That is why I am so pleased to support this important new Centre for London research, which shows that there is a better way of doing it '� reinstating London councils' ability to make their own decisions about licensing schemes for their local area, with a role for the Mayor in ensuring greater consistency, creating a more transparent system for landlords and better protections for private renters.'�
Tom Copley (pictured), Deputy Mayor of London, adds: "We believe that there is nothing to be gained by central government deciding on specific aspects of selective licensing schemes for local authorities around the country."
The report also calls for the looming national landlord register included within the Renters (Reform) Bill to work with selective property licensing rather than replace it.
'Both of these tools fulfil different functions and can work together,'� says the report's authors Zarin Mahmud and Jon Tabbush.
But the pair warn that: 'The underlying structural issues of London's rental market cannot be entirely fixed by improving licensing and enforcement practices.
'Central to the problems of London's rental market is the imbalance between supply and demand.
'Rising house prices in conjunction with increasingly unavailable mortgages have pushed millions more into the private rented sector '� a sector in crisis, exacerbated by a recent boom in demand from returning residents and a slow-down of growth in supply.'�
The report also casts a critical eye over the reform bill's Property Portal proposals, warning that '�sensitive and personal' information about landlords and tenants should be kept private.