This country has three types of landlord, good, bad and accidental. Yes there are a lot of good landlords out there. People who want to make a profit but not a killing; people who care for their tenants. There are a lot of poor landlords as well as some who are really in the way they treat their tenants verge on criminality. The third category, the accidentals, are there because they could not sell their home or inheritance and need to make a return. They fit into good or bad usually because of the type of lettings agent they use.
No-one planned for this but private landlords now have more properties than housing associations. Housing associations are rightly heavily regulated but no-one regulates the private sector with any more than cursory environmental health powers.
The bad private landlords cause major problems to a range of public sector services. They account for proportionately more fires, more ill health and more anti social behaviour problems than any other type of tenure. They take out shed loads of cash in housing benefit and the condition of their properties and their failure to engage with their tenants raises expense in other parts of the public system
Liverpool has it’s fair share of all three. In some parts of the City like parts of Greenbank Ward many houses are are now often let out. What look like family homes are student or young people’s accommodation. This massively changes the nature of the area and impacts on the way that the council an provide services into that area.
We will be discussing this at the Lib Dem Conference in a consultative session that I will be chairing. Part of that document suggests compulsory registration of all landlords including the private sector.
I strongly support this and in addition will make three more suggestions this afternoon:
1. That planning permission should be required when changing a house from single family to multiple tenant usage.
2. That there needs to be a compulsory registration scheme for lettings agents. At present any person can open a letting agency with no checks on suitability or background.
3. That all aspects of Housing benefit should be undertaken by councils who could use the existence of the rent stream available to landlords to raise standards and drive out the cowboy.
Housing is a basic human need and a basic human right. If electric, gas, water and telecomms and a host of other necessities can be regulated why not housing?
I am almost certain that the Party will back such a policy when we formally put it to a vote with our finished paper in Brighton in September. Why not let me know what you think?