licensing schemes are they really working
It appears the licensing schemes are here to stay, this month sees several English cities such as Bristol and Nottingham gain their own licensing schemes.
Now I know many landlords are strongly against these schemes feeling they are being penalised for the minority of rogue landlords who ironically will not sign up to schemes. I speak to numerous landlords and letting agents and although the PR line is that licensing schemes are supposed to drive up standards in the private rented sector, what the belief is that it is a means to fill some of the funding shortfalls that local authorities currently have.
Some schemes especially in Wales have now been in place for almost two years. You have the Rent Smart Wales which is actually a Welsh government scheme rather than a local authority licensing scheme.
Now all these schemes claim to be improving the standards within the private rental sector, if this is the case how do they differ in requirements so drastically. You have some schemes where the landlords and agents must be trained in their rights and responsibilities when renting out property to tenants to others where you simply register and pay your fee.
If we are going to have licensing schemes in this land would a national scheme not be far better, with it being administered by local authorities? What about those landlords who have several properties across numerous local authorities surely, they only have to prove their integrity the once?
We are a nation of transient movers, if the schemes are there to protect the tenants surely a national register of landlords would be far better than numerous local registers?
Tenants can check the public register to ensure that their landlords are registered and that those who let and manage their properties are licensed.
If we look at Rent Smart Wales, the central licensing authority for all 22 Welsh local authorities, is this a better idea than what we currently have in England? Would it be feasible to adopt their principles?
Under the scheme if an agent fails to comply with the conditions of their licence, which includes complying with legal obligations such as clearly advertising their fees, they put themselves at risk of losing their licence.
It would be interesting to try to crunch some numbers on landlords still letting without a licence and what is the average time for a licence to be process and either refused or granted. I know some rough figures for Wales shows that 20% of the estimated 130,000 landlords in Wales are still not registered with the scheme.
I would really like to get your thoughts and comments on this matter.