by Mark Johnston
Calls to License Landlords.
With increasing tenant unemployment, falling housing completion rates and struggling housing associations and the most difficult mortgage market in a generation means that the demand for affordable rental housing is stronger than ever.
It seems that the Government is now toying with the idea that every UK landlord has to have a piece of paper (a license) before they can let their property to a tenant. This comes from calls on them to act upon thousands of complaints from tenants.
Another reason to license landlords is due to the fact that each landlord would have an individual licence number would make it easier for the Inland Revenue to cross check their records to see if the landlord is paying sufficient tax. In other words it could be a back door way of snooping on a landlord’s accounts.
The suggestion is that the licence will be obtained from a national organisation, a so called national register of landlords. Registered landlords will have to meet certain standards as the body will have the power to revoke their licence for example for bodging repairs or intimidating their tenants.
However many landlords believe that letting property is a fundamental right and law abiding citizen they should be able to let their property to a willing tenant with out ‘getting permission’.
Landlords feel that a landlord licence will not measure competency. The concept of having a licence should not be confused with a measurement of competence or quality. It is a licence. This is neither useful to a landlord or to a tenant. Really bad landlords will simply evade the licence or let their property even if they are banned which negates the whole purpose of having it.
Other experts suggest that it may restrict supply of rental accommodation. As any restriction on ability of a property owner being able to let their property will inevitably serve to restrict the supply of rental property as some potential landlords will be put off from doing it, and some will move out of the rental market.
Although the National Landlord Association (NLA), who supposedly represent the interest of landlords, continue to sit on the fence over the issue of landlord licensing.
Despite these concerns the new scheme has already been launched by Newham Council and if it proves to be successful other coucils may soon follow suit.
The Newham deal means that all properties will need a licence, rather than all landlords, which means that some landlords will need to get multiple licences to cover every one of their properties.
There will be some 35,000 tenancies covered by the new licences, which would be one in three of the borough’s overall households.
The cost of a licence is currently at a reduced rate of £150 for those who apply early, but after 1st January 2013 this will rise to £500 – for each property!
It therefore means that only time will tell if this is to become the norm!
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