Saturday, 8 August 2009

"Selective Licencing" for Landlords

Hartlepool Council is bringing in "Selective Licencing" for Landlords in certain parts of the town. On the face of it it's hard to see how anyone can disagree with the scheme. However if you look at the requirements most of them are already law and none of them address problems caused by tenants. Once again the scheme seems to start from the premise that all private landlords are exploitative scum who need to be controlled. All tenants of course are wonderful people who need to be protected and Housing Associations can do no wrong.

Just look at the "Selective Licencing" requirements.

1) That a current gas safety record is provided to the authority. This is already the law for all rental properties and has been for years.

2) That electrical appliances and furniture are kept in a safe condition and a declaration is provided to the authority on demand as to the safety of such items. Once again, Health and safety legislation applies already.

3) That smoke alarms are installed in the house and are kept in a proper working order. A declaration must be provided to the Council on demand as to the condition and positioning of alarms. Try getting buildings insurance without this?

4) That a written statement of terms (such as a tenancy agreement) is provided to the occupier of the property. Once again the Law already covers this.

5) That references are demanded from any prospective occupants. (We will be strongly recommending that landlords make use of the Council's Good Tenant Scheme when deciding on a prospective tenant's suitability). Not worth the paper they are written on!

What about use of the Certified Bond Scheme, also the law now, how about some form of protection for landlords when Housing benefit is now paid direct to the tenant who is under no legal obligation to pass it on? What about some form of protection for Landlords who have received housing benefit from their tenants who are subsequently found not to be entitled, its the landlord that is made to pay it back, not the tenant who made the false claim.

It is fashionable and expedient to blame the ills of the rental sector om scum private landlords. The selective licensing is just another stick to hit landlords with while ignoring the fact that many of the problems are caused by scum tenants who know the system inside out and play the system for their own advantage. The responsible Landlords will comply and absorb the extra costs and bureaucracy. The irresponsible landlords will ignore it. If the existing laws were enforced then this scheme would not be necessary. Its another example of adding more laws to those already being flaunted. Responsible car drivers for example (those with road tax, MOTs, insurance, legal tires, working exhausts, obey the sped limits, etc) are well aware that the irresponsible drivers get away with murder, but do the law put their efforts into catching the irresponsible ones or do they chase the mainly compliant driver since they know they are a softer touch? Enforce the existing laws on the bad landlords before bring in more laws to punish the good landlords! Fewer laws more strictly enforced. That's the answer! We don't need yet another set of Local Authority Busy Bodies throwing their weight around!

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