In a drive to improve poor housing conditions in the private rented sector (PRS), the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) is calling for a new national landlord registration scheme for England.
It says that poor quality housing is responsible for a high proportion of the deaths, injuries and chronic illnesses that impact on life expectancy in the UK and points out that the PRS has higher proportions of substandard housing.
It also says that local authorities have limited knowledge of landlords and the properties in their local areas and there is no statutory requirement for landlords to declare their interests, and rogue landlords exploit this to the detriment of their tenants.
To tackle this situation, CIEH is calling on politicians from across the political spectrum to commit to introducing a new mandatory landlord registration scheme for England, mirroring those already in operation in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
CIEH has written to the leadership contenders in both the Conservative and the Liberal Democrat leadership battles, along with the Leader of the Opposition, and Caroline Lucas, asking them to commit their parties to introducing this new register and fighting to improve housing conditions in England.
Data from the new register would enable more local authorities to engage with landlords, via local landlord forums, to improve landlords’ knowledge of safe property conditions, good management practices and their obligations as a landlord.
It says that the new register should be connected with the rogue landlord database and banning orders, ensuring that landlords who have committed serious offences, but are not always known to other local authorities, cannot simply move areas to repeat their practices.
The argument is that a national register would aid the identification of criminal landlords who operate across different areas and prevent them from managing any properties going forward. On top of this tenants would also be able to check whether the property they are planning to rent is registered, thus helping tenants to make a better decision when choosing a property to rent.
CIEH’s campaign is supported by recommendations in the Government-commissioned review into selective licensing schemes, published just last month, that highlighted the value of a new landlord registration scheme for England.
‘This new national landlord register is absolutely necessary if we are going to properly get a grip on poor housing conditions in the private rented sector. CIEH has been analysing the schemes already operating in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and believe the time is right for England to follow suit,’ said Tamara Sandoul, housing policy spokesperson at CIEH.
‘Not only would a register give local authorities a much stronger picture of housing in their areas, but it will leave rogue landlords with nowhere to hide, all while empowering renters to make informed choices about their housing options,’ she pointed out.