Landlords have reacted with surprise to news that the Prime Minister will introduce compulsory licencing for all private landlords.
The National Landlords Association (NLA) said: “The introduction of a new mandatory licensing regime brings up some concern.”
Cameron surprised many when he mentioned mandatory licencing in a speech discussing government plans to control immigration on Friday.
He said: “For the first time we’ve had landlords checking whether their tenants are here legally. The Liberal Democrats only wanted us to run a pilot on that one. But now we’ve got a majority, we will roll it out nationwide, and we’ll change the rules so landlords can evict illegal immigrants more quickly.
“We’ll also crack down on the unscrupulous landlords who cram houses full of illegal migrants, by introducing a new mandatory licensing regime. And, a bit like ending jobs when visas expire, we’ll consult on cancelling tenancies automatically at the same point.”
With the licensing announcement light on detail, the NLA had plenty of questions. NLA chief executive officer Richard Lambert asked whether councils will be given the necessary funding to ensure they can take enforcement action.
“One of the fundamental reasons that a minority of criminal landlords are able to get away with providing poor living conditions is that councils do not have the resources to make use of their already significant powers,” said Lambert, “We would like to see the Treasury allow councils to keep the proceeds of the fines from prosecutions so that councils have both the powers and finances for enforcement, without going cap in hand to the Treasury.”
Lambert reiterated earlier concerns about the Right to Rent scheme which involves landlords being responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants.
“Landlords are happy to help to check that tenants are who they claim to be. However this should not be a way for the Government to pass the buck on to landlords when tacking illegal immigration,” he said, “We also had several questions regarding the scheme at the outset which still have not been answered. We hope, before the scheme is rolled out nationally, that the Government takes the time to review how the first phase in the West Midlands has worked and draws on the lessons from that, rather than ploughing ahead regardless.”