Ajay Jagota

Member Article

Landlord registration doomed to fail?

A London council this week became the first local authority in England to introduce a compulsory registration scheme for landlords – but a leading North East lettings agent “is not yet convinced” the scheme can work.

Owners of privately-rented homes in Newham now require a license to operate and must ensure their properties meet minimum health and safety standards or face fines of up to £20,000.

Ajay Jagota of KIS Lettings, who manage properties for some 700 landlords across the North East from branches in Sunderland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside, has previously urged his industry to consider a similar code of conduct, but fears Newham’s scheme will not succeed, calling instead for an “industry-led, nationwide approach”.

He said: “Top marks to Newham for taking the issue of slum landlords so seriously, but I’m not yet convinced their solution can ever be successful when what we really need is an industry-led, nationwide approach.

“The scheme relies on laws which already exist, but which aren’t being enforced enough. Why are Newham’s bad landlords any more likely to obey them now? If the council had the resources to inspect every property in Newham several times a year before, why didn’t it? If it does now, where have they come from?

“If councils act unilaterally like this my fear is all they do is place an underserved bureaucratic burden on good landlords, probably paid for by tenants.

“Even if the very existence of this scheme makes slum landlords think twice about operating in Newham, all they’re going to do is literally cross the road to Barking or Hackney. The problem doesn’t go away, it just swaps postcodes.

“The Newham solution also seems to me to be inadvertently adversarial. There are problem landlords, but landlords are not the problem - landlords and local authorities need to co-operate, not compete.

“If different local authorities all implement different schemes – which seems to be the government’s preference – the risk is that all we do is distort the market and create an immensely-complicated, patchy and incoherent system which does nothing to protect tenants.

“What would be far more effective would be an industry-led, nationwide, scheme of voluntary accreditation I have previously called for. Something which sees local authorities, private landlords, housing groups, social landlords uniting to make sure tenants know their rights and know who they can trust.

“Something as simple as allowing landlords to display an easily-recognisable logo giving tenants piece of mind their landlord is trustworthy, together with an effort to educate people about what their rights are could have a huge impact.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ajay Jagota .

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