Last week I discussed how poor housing affects all of us, through increased costs (estimated at £600 million per year) to the National Health Service, deprivation and under achieving children (our future).
I suggested that it is difficult for government to plan on dealing with this without a clearer picture of the extent of the sector and where it is. For this we need some sort of landlords registration system.
A landlord registration system would also facilitate imposing a standards regime.
The case for landlord accreditation
I don’t think something as important as peoples housing should be allowed to be provided by just anyone.
I am not saying that people should not be allowed to rent out homes – we desperately need more homes for people. What I am saying is that the people managing those homes should be property trained and accredited.
So if a landlord wants to manage his properties himself, he should undergo training, and his properties should be subject to periodic inspection.
Surely that is not too much to ask? The good landlords will normally have undergone voluntary training anyway.
National not local
I also think that any system set up should be a national scheme rather than left to the Local Authorities.
A commentator on my last post pointed how unfair it is, when a landlord who holds properties in more than one area has to pay multiple fees.
It is also unfair when different local authority systems have different standards and levels of enforcement. It should be the same for all.
Accredited landlords qualification
Landlords who do the training and acquire accreditation should be rewarded for this by having a proper nationally recognised qualification (lets call it an accredited landlord) – something they can feel proud of and which will give them status and standing in the community.
Landlords provide an important service – they should be respected for this.
Carrot and stick
Accreditation could also bring extra rewards. For example accredited landlords could come within the more favourable business tax regime rather than having their property portfolio taxed as an ‘investment’.
Maybe there could be other financial incentives such as grants for property improvements and the right to reclaim VAT for certain business expenses.
Landlords who are not accredited should not be prevented from renting, but they should be required to use a properly accredited letting agent.
If these is not done then there should be penalties. Maybe fines. Maybe the right for tenants to withhold rent. What do you think?
But, you will be saying, at present we don’t even have accreditation for letting agents!
I’ll be looking at that next week.