Commenting on proposals contained in the independent Rugg Review of the Private Rented Sector, Cllr Geoffrey Theobald OBE, chairman of LACORS, said:
“Every private tenant deserves a safe, decent place in which to live backed up by a responsible landlord. Councils are committed to putting local people first, and since councils gained new powers to enforce standards in private rented housing two years ago, great strides have been made.
“If central government is serious about driving up standards in the private rented sector it needs first to come up with a clear policy line and direction, without which councils are continually feeling their way in a fragmented sector. Government also needs to make sure councils have the resources necessary to target and sanction the small minority of landlords and agents who flagrantly break the law.
“This review highlights a number of important issues facing councils and will undoubtedly play a major part in shaping future government policy on private sector housing issues. It’s vital that as a next step we can come together, central and local government, letting agents and landlords, to decide how we can best take things forward.”
On regulation of letting and managing agents:
“Regulating letting and managing agents would be a much-needed step in the right direction which would undoubtedly help improve professionalism within the sector.
“We already have a mandatory licensing regime for certain larger multi-occupancy homes and local authorities retain discretion to implement additional or selective licensing of all rented properties within problem areas. These discretionary powers are a valuable tool for councils but we do not want to see a mandatory licensing scheme for all rented accommodation. This would be overly bureaucratic and would risk diverting scarce resources away from vital frontline work.”
On plans to regulate high concentrations of HMOs:
“Many councils are dealing with some very specific concerns relating to high concentrations of multi-occupancy rented homes, particularly in university towns and in areas with high numbers of migrant workers.
“It’s important that councils have the tools at their disposal to deal with these issues, however social engineering is not the role of legislation. Rather, it’s better to support and encourage best practice because it is clear that a number of councils are already taking positive steps to deal with this particular issue.” www.lacors.co.uk