PART 1: STRATEGIC OVERVIEW
- Landlord registration is a key policy to increase standards in the private rented sector
- Information collected through the scheme increases local authority knowledge about the sector
- Registration provides an effective tool for tackling bad landlords
- For the majority of landlords who operate lawfully, the scheme should be light touch
- The success of the scheme relies on effective local administration
- Local authorities have a duty to provide advice and assistance to both landlords and tenants
The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring a well-managed, thriving private rented sector in Scotland that provides quality and security for tenants. Mandatory registration is an important strand of the Government's wider policy framework for the private rented sector, designed to secure good management, good standards and good behaviour across the sector, and by so doing to reinforce the positive contribution it makes to meeting housing need in Scotland.
Other major policy and legislative initiatives include modernisation of the Repairing Standard for private landlords; establishment of a Private Rented Housing Panel and Committee to support tenants who are in disputes over repairs with their landlord; production by Communities Scotland of National Core Standards for private landlords; support for the national voluntary accreditation scheme, Landlord Accreditation Scotland; giving tenants the right to adapt their houses to suit disabled occupants; and placing the system for mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation ( HMOs) in a new, more appropriate, statutory housing framework.
The importance of the private rented sector in Local Housing Strategies has been underlined by good practice research on the collection and provision of private rented sector information. Successful mandatory registration will help local authorities to improve their Local Housing Strategies by filling gaps in their knowledge of how many private rented sector properties are in their area and where they are located. This will, in turn, lead to more relevant and effective local policies to improve, regulate and support the contribution that the private rented sector makes to local economies and local housing markets.
Registration gives local authorities an effective means of dealing with the worst performing landlords who, by their behaviour and attitude, mismanage their properties, or fail to act in respect of their anti-social tenants and cause misery for their own tenants, other tenants, neighbours and communities. Such landlords tarnish the image of the great majority of landlords (and agents) who operate lawfully and would wish to see the negative image of their business replaced by recognition of the vital role they play in a modern housing market. As a result of targeting action on the worst landlords and agents, mandatory registration will, along with the other measures mentioned above, help to improve the reputation, image and professionalism of the whole private rented sector.
Registration represents a challenge for local authorities. While it provides a mechanism for local authorities to take action and deal with rogue landlords, it must be delivered with as light a regulatory touch as possible. The great majority of landlords and agents are not expected to fall foul of the registration process. They should pass through registration with no challenge to their competence or fitness to own and manage rented accommodation.
The skill for authorities is in identifying the minority of owners and agents meriting scrutiny, further investigation and for some, the decision to refuse registration. Authorities are expected to focus effort on finding the landlords who are evading registration and investigating those who are attempting to mislead in the information they provide.
The over-riding benefit of implementing the registration system should accrue to private tenants. Tenants should not be overlooked by local authorities in implementing the registration system. Indeed, duties are placed on authorities to provide information, advice and assistance when registration is refused or revoked and when a Rent Penalty Notice is served. In addition, local authorities have a duty to provide advice to tenants and prospective tenants on letting practice and landlord registration when an enquiry is received.
Registration should remove the worst landlords and agents from the rental market. A well measured approach by authorities to implementing registration, with a positive attitude to communicating with, and supporting, landlords who need some assistance to achieve registration, should encourage new entrants to the market.