For many landlords and potential landlords, current regulation is a significant barrier to investing in new properties. The PRS is subject to a wide-variety of housing, health and safety, planning, social policy, and environmental legislation, developing in what Professor Ball has dubbed ďa haphazard, uncoordinated manner over many decadesĒ. Prof. Ball argues that the cost-effectiveness of many requirements was never assessed when the measures were implemented nor have recent ones been reassessed after several years in place.
Tenant satisfaction rates in the private rented sector are at 85%, a larger proportion than those in the social sector. Despite this, local authorities take much time enforcing regulation on those landlords which are easy to identify leaving those who fail to provide a decent standard of accommodation to remain unmolested.
The RLA advocates robust accreditation schemes which pre-vetted, compliant landlords would join. Complaints received from local authorities would be passed over to the scheme operators. If a landlord were found to be unsatisfactory they would be removed from the scheme. This needs to be coupled with tenants being provided with clearer information about their rights and responsibilities to better hold their landlord to account.
This would free councils up to use their finite resources to enforce existing regulation. The RLA believes that the process of prosecuting what amount to criminal landlords continues to be too slow, as well as being too infrequent. Freeing councils up to better target this minority would help provide Council with the skills to more successfully secure prosecutions.
The Housing Act 1984 introduced three systems of licensing all of which are bureaucratic and costly. It is often difficult for the landlord to understand which applies. Compliant landlords licence their properties but many of the non-compliant, criminal landlords donít. There are significant fees to be paid (up to £1,800 for an HMO licence in Norwich) which inevitably translate into higher rents. The current need to re-licence properties every five years means a huge effort and amount of work is entailed.
The Housing health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is too complex and takes a great deal of time. Landlords much prefer a prescriptive regime with objective standards being laid. This is provided that such requirements are proportionate and reasonable. We suggest a system of clear guidance with deemed compliance where such guidance is carried into effect.