Property Licensing schemes offer a real way to improve conditions in the Private Rented sector, however, its current implementation has some serious drawbacks.
1. Most tenants do not know about it
If tenants do not know about licensing schemes they are unable to ask their landlord or council as to whether their property is licensed. Tenants not knowing about a scheme aimed at protecting their home (and essentially their life) means they are unable to exercise the rights licensing was intended to give.
2. It does not include tenants in the process
Even if tenants are aware of licensing at present they are completely ignored in the licencing process. Tenants have a unique insight into the state and function of the properties they are living in and should be able to give their input into the licensing process.
3. There is no consistency
Different local authorities operate the licensing of private landlords differently and there are no standards to work from. There is no consistency in the enforcement and administration of licensing meaning regulation of property standards in the private sector is similar to a ‘post code lottery’.
4. There are not enough resources available for licensing to work
On the back of the fact there is no consistency between local authorities and the delivery of licensing, the funding and human resources given to licensing also varies widely. Given that privately held tenancies are now the second most common form of tenure within the UK, Local Authorities should ensure they have the necessary resources needed to deliver an effective licensing programme aimed at regulating this sector.
5. It doesn’t cover all privately rented properties
One of the reasons land lord licensing was introduced was to tackle poor quality within the private rented sector however there is no obligation for the local authority to visit and inspect every property or indeed any number of properties. When only a small number of properties, if any, in a given local authority are inspected the benefits of the licensing scheme will be confined to a limited number of tenants and landlords.
Blog post by Louise Graham – she has been working in and with housing authorities since 2010, and has been a tenant in in the private sector for many years. She’s passionate about the experiences of private renters and eager to see legislation change.