Enforce existing laws before making new ones, NLA pleads

by Gary Whittaker

The government should take steps to ensure existing laws and regulations governing the activities of landlords are enforced more effectively than is presently the case before proceeding with more legislation, the National Landlords Association (NLA) has argued.

It's views have been expressed as the Communities and Local Government Select Committee is investigating two areas of landlord activity. 

The first of these is the role councils play in the private rental sector in terms both of provision and regulation, while the second is the question of whether landlord licensing schemes lead to better quality accommodation and offer an effective complaint mechanism for tenants. 

In his appearance before the committee to give evidence on the tenants fees bill, NLA chairman Adrian Jeakings argued that the real issue is that many powers already exist, but local authorities frequently fail to use them to enforce better standards. He said the biggest single reason for this is a lack of resources, something a raft of new regulations would not address.

Mr Jeakings also noted that the system of selective licensing has not been reviewed yet, which means there is no data available to indicate how much success such schemes have had in raising standards or weeding out bad landlords.

The NLA also submitted written evidence to the committee on the government's Draft Tenant Fees Bill (Draft Bill). It argued that banning fees would not have a significant impact on affordability, as the kind of services included in upfront fees would still need to be paid for. 

While emphasising that the NLA "in no way wishes to defend" excessive charges, it also said banning fees would mean agents passing on costs to landlords, who would in turn pass them on to tenants in the form of higher rents.

In addition to this bill, communities secretary Sajid Javid recently announced ministers will support a 'fit for habitation' private member's bill by Karen Buck, the Labour MP for Westminster North. 

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25-January-18Legal News