The draft Housing Bill could swamp the upper areas of the rental market with bureaucracy if it is passed in its current form, according to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA).
ARLA has warned the Government the legislation, which contains rules for the treatment of houses in multiple occupation (HMO), selective licensing in areas of low housing demand and fitness standards, will lead to an ‘Empire Builders Charter’, financed by licence fees.
In a meeting with Lord Rooker, the minister for housing, ARLA representatives claimed that greater clarity over the definition of HMOs and the areas of selective licensing was needed. Otherwise they said there was a danger that local authorities would go for soft targets, including well-regulated and market-competitive landlords ‘ the mainstay of the rental sector. ARLA warned: ‘Licensing must be strictly defined and only for hostel style or bedsit accommodation or where five or more unrelated sharers occupy a property. Selective licensing must be confined to those areas of low housing demand.’
It fears the lack of clarity may allow local authorities to enforce checking and tracking in the middle and upper areas of the rental market, an area which the Government has repeatedly stated will not require licensing, potentially damaging the market.
The Government has yet to issue a response.