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LANDLORD LICENSING AND REGISTRATION SHOULD BE CENTRALISED SAYS LETTINGFOCUS.COM

John Blackwood, a director of the Scottish Association of Landlords tells me he knows of many landlords who have just had their applications for the Scottish landlords register acknowledged and licenses issued by their local authorities – almost three years after they applied for them!
If the government goes ahead with similar proposals in England and Wales, will our local authorities or whoever administers it be as inefficient I wonder?
Perhaps, as Mr Blackwood suggests, it would be better to have a single central authority managing the scheme rather than having the whole thing handled by different town halls with varying level of efficiency.

BUT DO WE REALLY NEED LANDLORD LICENSING?
I would say if we must have it, then it must be enforced in a way that really drives out rogue landlords.
But let’s stop and think.
Who are these bad landlords, who do they prey on and how do they get away with it.
I suggest that a lot of these guys are letting to people in overcrowded accommodation.
I suggest that many of their tenant victims will be people who don’t know the law or who are not confident enough to stand up for themselves for fear that they will be evicted and wont find it easy to get another place to live.
Partly this will because they have a poor credit history (or none at all). I suggest many will be migrants, possibly illegal migrants with little English and perhaps also dependent on their “landlord” for a job.
Now let’s look at the position of a tenant who is not vulnerable but who has a poor landlord.
If this tenant’s landlord fails to carry put basic repairs or meet his landlords’ obligations under the law, the tenant can complain about their landlord and try to enforce their many rights.
OK, it is true, their landlord could carry out a retaliatory eviction at the end of a fixed term contract, but good tenants will soon find a good landlord. And they will know what signs to look for next time.

GOOD LANDLORDS AND GOOD TENANTS TEND TO GET TOGETHER
Personally, I like it when tenants come to me if they are good people but their previous landlord was the sort who could never quite get round to fixing the boiler or sort out the damp problem because I know they will really appreciate me.
The fact is that bad landlords end up with bad and vulnerable tenants and good landlords end up with good tenants and vice versa.
What licensing must do, if indeed it becomes law in England and Wales, is have in place very tough sanctions on those landlords who make VULNERABLE tenants lives a nighmare.
That must mean heavy fines which are enforced fast and a wide publication of the scheme especially among the most disadvantged.
But for goodness sake, leave good landlords alone.
And allow the good landlord to get rid of bad tenants too – and much faster than is allowed under the cumbersome court processes of today.

MORE TIPS ON USING A LETTING AGENT
Make sure you know the law. I know the law is deadly boring but as a landlord you are running a business and this means there are some things you legally have to do and some things you mustn’t do. And if you don’t comply you can face fines and even go to prison.
“Ah”, you say. “But if I’m using a letting agent they will deal with all the legal issues and my landlord responsibilities right?” Well, possibly yes, but don’t bank on it. Some agents still operate without any liability cover and are not part of any bonding scheme. If they go bust how long will it be until you hear about that? A few months, a year maybe?
And what would happen to any rent they were collecting for you in that time and all those gas checks that they are supposed to arrange for you?
So, you have to know the law (see chapter X) and occasionally check that they are doing what they should be doing for you as your agent.
ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS.COM and DAVID LAWRENSON
I’m David Lawrenson of LettingFocus.com - the landlord experts. Read Property Articles.
I’m the author of “Successful Property Letting” which for the last 3 years has been the UK’s top selling property book - buy Property Investment Book. The new edition is for accidental and experienced landlords and is fully up to date with all the recent changes to tenancy deposit schemes, landlord registration and capital gains taxes.
I’m a property expert and property speaker - and I run the well known property blog that you are reading now.
I contribute to newspapers and a host of property websites, write a number of columns in the press and I provide general advice on property letting to anyone looking to buy property for themselves or to let.
What’s unique about lettingfocus.com is that we offer independent unbiased advice on renting out property because unlike most people in the buy to let and property “advice” business we are not linked to a property company, developer, agent or bridging loan financier.
For landlords' insurance products such as rent guarantee cover and property insurance click on Ukinsurancenet. Don't forget to quote our reference code, LFOC, to get the best rates from them too. And find out about OTHER great deals we have arranged at our Property Affiliate page. More wil be added over the next month, once we have checked them out.
Copyright: David Lawrenson 2009. This blog is updated roughly once a week.
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  1. Blogger Merseyside &amp; Wirral Landlords Action Group | 9:18 AM |  

    The Merseyside and Wirral Property Landlord Action Group, will be taking a vote on the Proposed National Register for Landlords, at its meeting On Thursday October 15th in New Brighton Wirral. Meeting details can be obtained by telephoning Richard Globe Secretary on 0151-639-6253 up to 10pm Monday to Friday.

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