The easy way to implement a national register of landlords

A low cost implementation of a National Register of Landlords

The last time the government seriously considered implementing a National Register of Landlords (more accurately a register of tenancies) it was estimated that the cost would be £300 million. The proposal was parked, however, we suspect this figure was derived by simply asking well known consultancy firms what they would charge to deliver it.

Generation Rent, and previously as the National Private Tenants Organisation, has been calling for landlord registration for years. This briefing outlines the principal benefit of a register and a low cost means for implementation.

The benefits

The national register is simple, and it would be used by local authority housing enforcement teams.

  1. All tenancies are required to be registered.
  2. Local enforcement teams log their landlord enforcement actions.
  3. The system automatically alerts any authority where that "dodgy" landlord has registered a tenancy of a list of properties in that authority where that landlord operates.
  4. Authorities prioritise this list for inspection.
  5. Authorities compile a list of properties where no one is registered to vote or where there are council tax arrears and deletes from the list all known social tenured homes.
  6. Authorities delete from the list all registered private tenancies.
  7. Authorities prioritise this list for inspection as they are highly likely to be unregistered private tenancies.

Due to the implementation of a blanket licensing scheme in Newham, that authority has been able to focus its enforcement resources using the information detailed above. Furthermore, they are recouping an estimated £1.3 million in previously unpaid Council Tax.

Implementing a national register

We are committed to reforms that protect tenants while being fair to landlords, and that means minimising unnecessary cost and bureaucracy. This is the approach we advocate in the implementation of a national register of landlords.

We think this register already exists.

The statutory tenancy deposit protection schemes already comprise a register of all tenancies in the UK. There is already a punitive financial sanction for a landlord who doesn't protect the deposit in an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

We are calling for a linking of these existing databases so they can be used in the manner described above. This would entail absolutely no additional bureaucracy to landlords as they are already required to comply with the deposit protection rules.

Cost

Far from being £300 million, we would ask for a £3 levy on each new tenancy, collected by the deposit protection schemes. They should retain one pound in respect of their obligation to manage the national register, but we would also call for one pound to be invested in a grant giving fund for landlord engagement and education, and the final pound, similarly, to be designated for tenant engagement and education.

With a million new tenancies each year in England alone, the total cost would be £3 million a year, deducted from the deposit protection fee, and therefore attracting no transaction cost.

Legislation

We do not believe this would require any legislation as DCLG is already the "owner" of the deposit protection scheme. Sharing this data with local authorities for individual enforcement purposes would be within existing law.

In conclusion

At zero cost to the taxpayer and a tiny cost to landlords, an English register of landlords at the very least could be implemented within months. Councils would be able to spend their enforcement budgets more effectively and bring in millions more in Council Tax revenues.

It's simple, cheap, would save taxpayers cash and would help councils to drive bad landlords out of business.

If you think this is a good idea, please support our petition.

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