Private rented sector (PRS) landlords are calling on the UK’s next government to undertake a review of the enforcement of regulations in the industry.
According to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), tenants are being let down by a failure to properly enforce the powers already available to tackle poor housing conditions.
Last week, Liverpool City Council announced plans for the introduction of the country’s largest landlord licensing scheme. But the RLA has highlighted that the move comes as the council is cutting its Environment Health Services – responsible for enforcing the scheme – by up to 25%.
Research by the Local Government Information Unit and Management Journal found that 54% of local authorities believe that they are in danger of being unable to fund their statutory services.
In 2013, the cross-party Communities and Local Government Select Committee report on the PRS warned that it was “concerned about reports of reductions in staff who have responsibility for enforcement and tenancy relations and who have an important role in making approaches to raising standards successful”.
The report also raised concerns that “the police are sometimes unaware of their responsibilities in dealing with reports of illegal eviction”.
The RLA is writing to all the political parties to call on them to commit to undertake a review of the capacity and capabilities of local authorities, the courts, the police and trading standards to enforce the powers they already have as they relate to private rented housing.
Alan Ward, RLA chairman, said: “The RLA is fully supportive of regulations that protect both tenants and good landlords. But it cannot be right that regulations are not being enforced properly. This lets tenants and good landlords down. The reality is that we can regulate all we like but without proper enforcement then it becomes meaningless.
“Whilst debate on the private rented sector will intensify as we approach polling day we need to think carefully about what can and cannot be enforced. It’s time to end the false belief that regulations in themselves will help solve the problems in the sector. Instead we need a smarter approach to root out the minority of crooks who cause misery for tenants and bring the sector into disrepute.”