This month, Chris Norris, NLA Director of Policy and Practice, tells us how the NLA has been influencing the debate around three key issues for landlords: right to rent; the Tenant Fees Bill; and selective licensing.
- The issue: right to rent
The issue of the government’s regulations on right to rent, requiring landlords to check that a tenant can legally rent in England, has been gaining more public attention in the wake of the Windrush scandal and exposure of the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ policy. MPs from all parties are questioning the policy, given that there is no clear evidence that it has had any positive impact, or even contributed towards the government’s own controversial targets.
As yet there’s no indication that the government will backtrack on this rule but nor do the devolved administrations of Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland show any interest in adopting the policy.
It’s been two years since full implementation of the rule in England and we want to see a full review. The NLA has been applying pressure to secure change and demonstrating the real difficulties that the checks have created for landlords and tenants.
We believe the policy has become untenable. It’s made things more bureaucratic for landlords and tenants, and we are concerned that landlords are unwittingly playing a part in this ‘hostile environment’ policy.
- The issue: Tenant Fees Bill
The Tenant Fees Bill, which aims to ban letting fees and cap tenancy deposits in England, passed to a Public Bill Committee that met on Tuesday 5 June. CEO Richard Lambert gave evidence to the Public Bill Committee on 5 June.
Richard told the committee that we know there are cases of outrageous, and indefensible, charges but we haven’t seen clear evidence to support this wide-ranging ban on all fees. We are worried about some of the consequences of banning tenants fees because we think there are some legitimate costs that tenants should share in.
We are also using the passage of this bill to draw attention to other issues that are causing problems for landlords. In particular we hope that it will present opportunities to provide solutions to the genuinely pressing problems created by the prescribed information requirements introduced in 2015.
- The issue: selective licensing
The government is due to (finally) launch a full review of selective licensing. Ahead of launching that exercise, which we are told is imminent, the government has given the go-ahead for a major borough-wide licensing scheme for buy-to-let landlords in Redbridge.
We see the government’s decision on the Redbridge scheme as negative, and poorly timed, ahead of launching its review on selective licensing, especially as Redbridge’s previous application to roll-out of a borough-wide licensing scheme had been refused.
This decision could be telling about the government’s approach to selective licensing on the eve of the review.
Do you need advice on any safety issues or regulations? The NLA’s Telephone Advice Line is staffed by our team of experienced landlords, who have a wealth of knowledge on landlord-related questions and issues. The Advice Line is free for members. Find out more at landlords.org.uk/advice-line