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“Licensing never works!” – industry verdict on latest government review

Letting agents and others in the private rental sector have responded to the latest government intervention – a review into how the 155 or so local council selective licensing schemes have been working.

“Licencing doesn’t work, and it never has done” says an emphatic David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark.

“The government’s aims are laudable; we’re all striving for the same end goal of improving the private rental sector for consumers, but these policies are impractical. Licencing means councils spend all their time administering schemes, rather than enforcing against rogue, criminal landlords – a fact which has been proven time and time again over the last decade” adds Cox.

The ARLA boss was responding to yesterday’s announcement by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – reported here by Letting Agent Today- that it was asking independent commissioners to gather evidence from local authorities and bodies representing agents, landlords, tenants and housing professionals.

The review’s findings will be reported in spring 2019 but there will be an update on progress this autumn.

The MHCLG also announced yesterday the details of new guidelines on HMO licensing, on minimum room sizes and on landlord responsibilities on the handling of refuse.

Cox says on these latter subjects: “Implementing standards for minimum bedroom sizes means small, cheap bedrooms will be taken off the market at a time when there’s an acute housing shortage. This will increase costs for other tenants living in the property, and means those who need or want these small, cheap bedrooms will be left without anywhere to live.”

He says the latest initiative from the government comes on top of the gradual removal of mortgage interest relief, new energy standards for private rental properties, and the ever-increasing fees for licensing schemes.

“At a time when the government is concerned with rising rent costs, all its policies are just increasing costs for landlords, fostering a private rented sector where financial burdens due to ever-changing legislations will keep rising” insists Cox.

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