New funding promised by Government to tackle rogue landlords and criminal landlords are not enough, argues a leading landlord body.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) was speaking following confirmation today of the 65 councils to share in the Government’s £5 million fund to tackle criminal landlords.
Whilst the RLA welcomes efforts to root out criminal landlords it is arguing that the money announced is not sufficient to tackle the minority of landlords who cause misery for their tenants.
It is also warning that the funds could be wasted by local authorities because of a system that fails to free up local authorities to target the hard to find criminals.
In 2014, Professor Michael Ball of Reading University warned that the costs of enforcement were being borne by good landlords at the expense of criminals.
The RLA is pointing to a ground breaking scheme in Liverpool as the way to go. A recently announced partnership between the RLA, Liverpool Council and other industry bodies will free up the council to target the hard to find criminals, giving good landlords a more cost effective option of robust self-regulation. The scheme is known as co-regulation.
To support this, the RLA is calling on the Government to use the Housing and Planning Bill, currently going through Parliament, to compel councils to ask tenants for details of their landlord on council tax registration forms. This would make it much harder for criminal landlords to evade scrutiny.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Alan Ward, Chairman of the Residential Landlords Association said:
“The new funding averages £80,000 per council – hardly a great encouragement.
“Without fundamental changes to the way that regulations are enforced, local authorities will fail to find and prosecute the criminals who pretend to be landlords.
“Though a minority, they cause misery for tenants and have no place in a modern rental market.”
The RLA represents 40,000 private sector residential landlords in England and Wales.
– Details of the Government’s rogue landlord fund, announced in November, can be found at here
– In April 2014, Michael Ball, Professor of Urban and Property Economics at Reading University wrote a paper for the RLA on the regulation of private rented housing. This can be found at here
In it he wrote:
“All cases of landlord and property registration fail to be clear in their aims or how to measure success in achieving them. Vague statements form their basis, such as ‘weeding out the rogues’ and inducing ‘greater professionalism’, that are unquantifiable.
“All imply universal coverage, but the worst operators are unlikely to conform. Instead, better quality landlords are faced with higher costs in terms of fees and administration and the aggregate benefit is limited or, more likely, negative.
“Registration schemes can never be comprehensive because they face the fundamental information problem of not knowing what properties are rented out by whom. Rather than being comprehensive, they fall back on the threat of penalties for those that fail to register to try to ensure that high numbers do so. However, such threats are unlikely to impress the worst landlords, because, after all, they are currently unfazed by the more draconian penalties they would probably face if their current poor practices were actually found out and punished. So, they are unlikely to co-operate.
“In fact, poor landlords may react by being more covert in their operations. There are also significant costs in pursuing recalcitrant landlords, even if they are known; which both adds to overall scheme costs and acts as a disincentive for public bodies to chase miscreants.
“All this suggests that registration schemes are doomed to fail in one of their key objectives – full coverage – with the worst of the sector unincorporated. With that, their fundamental aims cannot be met.”
– Details of the co-regulation agreement reached with Liverpool Council can be found here
– Details of the RLA’s proposals to find criminal landlords which have been supported by Parliamentarians from all parties can be found here