Just visit any property forum or website & ask what landlords think of the idea of licensing and regulation and you will get a loud and clear indication that Landlords consider regulation to be an expensive useless waste of time.
In spite of this new rules were introduced in January 2010 which meant landlords of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) must have their properties inspected and licensed. During the first year, until December 2011, Oxford City Council issued 338 licences – and just 11 of those, or three per cent, were issued without any additional conditions. To my mind this sends a loud and clear signal – either the Private Rental Sector is rotten to the core, or the Regulations are!
97% of Privately Rented Accommodation Isn’t Fit For Purpose?
The new regulations were introduced in two phases. From January 2011, landlords of three-storey houses or two-storey houses for five people or more were told to get their property inspected for £362, make any necessary alterations and renew the licence annually. The rules were then rolled out to include properties with three or more sharers this January, resulting in an extra 1,065 applications. Oxford is currently the only council in the country to require all HMOs to be licensed, more than 2,000 warning letters were sent to landlords in December, and since the scheme came into effect there have been eight prosecutions against landlords managing unsafe HMOs and one letting agent. The council has also taken over the management of one HMO because the landlord was not a fit and proper person to hold a licence.
So what is wrong – Landlords, or Regulations? During 2011 Pimlico Flats received 2 letters from Westminster City Council threatening enforcement action.
- One was because we had 5 Flats which only had 1 lock on the door – in spite of 30 years without a crime, a daily manned reception and a 24/7 CCTV monitoring service WCC still estimated that the likelihood of death or serious injury from there only being 1 lock on each flat entrance was 1/7. It was cheaper to put a second lock on every door than argue with the Environmental Health Office about the regulations.
- The second was that a tenant wasn’t sleeping with his girlfriend. How WCC were able to identify the couple’s nocturnal habits is beyond me, but they readily confessed to their crime – apparently they were working different hours and were using a sofa to avoid disturbing the partner. WCC were not prepared to accept the argument that as Landlord I had no right to dictate my tenant’s sexual habits, but fortunately the tenants were happy to give me a letter voluntarily committing themselves to sleeping together.
Clearly when 97% of the Private Rented Sector fails to meet regulations something needs to be done – what do you think should be done?