People like Ben and myself often feel like we are shouting in a void, so it is good to see a few other reports coming out.
For example this report here is a BBC post about an investigation into letting agents and landlords flouting tenants rights, particularly with regard to tenancy deposits.
Then this lettings today post reports MP Graham Jones requesting an “urgent statement” from housing minister Grant Shapps “on the crisis of rogue landlords in the private sector”.
Its encouraging to see that the idea of rogue landlords is starting to penetrate Westminster. The trouble is, for the lettings industry anyway, the danger of overreaction and inappropriate hasty legislation.
The tenancy deposit legislation was hasty, a late amendment to the Housing Act 2004. And look what happened to that!
But effective overregulation can be worse. After all the decline of the rented industry prior to the 1990s was in part due to the strong rights given to tenants in legislation from about 1915, which made renting deeply unattractive to investors.
Before this legislation (brought in during the first world war), about 80% of us lived in rented accommodation. By the time the law changed again in 1989, this had gone down to about 8%.
Reports are not really the answer – after all the Law Commision spent years compiling a report carrying out a huge consultation exercise, which has been almost comletely ignored.
My view is that greater efforts should be made to enforce more effectively the laws we already have, coupled with agent regulation. But more effective enforcement will inevitably need more funding for the enforcers. Which is the big problem.
But surely there is a benefit to society of getting rid of the rogue operators and dodgy housing, which can be costed and used to justify this expense? What do you think?