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Yes to Landlord Licensing!

by Sharon Crossland

In this first article from guest blogger Sharon Crossland, owner of property website Leasehold Life, she discusses the hot topic of the proposed licensing of residential landlords.

Having set up my website Leasehold Life as a direct consequence of dealing with the huge amount of problems caused by an absent freehold landlord and negligent managing agents, I have been following with interest the debate amongst private sector landlord groups as to whether they should be legally required to have a licence to operate.

A review of the sector in 2007 led to the proposal by Dr Julie Rugg of a very simple, basic landlord licensing scheme which was taken by the government and considerably extended. The biggest question surrounding either of these proposals seems to becentralised on whether or not implementation of a licence would eliminate the so-called ‘minority rogue element’.

However, how can anyone state with such certainty that the rogue element is a minority? David Salisbury of the National Landlords’ Association (NLA) says they are and that there are sufficient rules and regulations in place to ensure that they can be dealt with swiftly and effectively but Ian Austin MP, responsible for the private rental sector, wants to stamp out the rogue minority. Grant Shapps, Shadow Housing Minister sees regulation of the private rental sector as being a blunt instrument for getting results despite the fact that combined landlord organisation numbers barely scratch the surface of the total number of landlords in operation.

A statutory basic licensing scheme would be of benefit in that it would get a handle on a severely fragmented market. It may also make landlords that operate as our freehold landlord did think twice before entering the sector.

Whilst there is nothing that could completely eradicate the criminal and the negligent, we also have to remember that belonging to a membership organisation can just as easily provide a respectable front for carrying out fraudulent practices.

Surely having no statutory entry criteria to meet whatsoever has badly served both sectors, especially those of us that didn’t sign up to pick up the pieces.

Sharon Crossland is the founder of property website Leasehold Life an online resource for tenants, managers and owners of leasehold property. She is an affiliate member of the Institute of Residential Property Managers and has contributed to News on the Block’s leasehold series ‘From The Frontine’ where her articles appear alongside other industry professionals such as Myra Bar-Hillel and Jane Barry of the Evening Standard.

Image courtesy of Elsie esq.

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