A REPORT published by Citizens Advice has called for a new licensing scheme to be implemented across England, in order to regulate landlords and ensure that those letting out unsuitable or hazardous properties are blacklisted.
Called “Paying a High Price For a Faulty Product”, the report, which has been produced by Citizens Advice and the New Policy Institute, has estimated that over 700,000 tenants live in a privately rented dwelling that does not meet minimum standards.
Some of the more common problems are linked to vermin infestations and damp, but serious health and safety issues are also commonplace, according to the report.
As a result of the findings, Citizens Advice has asked for current local authority landlord rules to be expanded on a national level, so that all landlords have to obtain a licence before they can let out a property.
Under current law, even landlords with a criminal record can let a property to private tenants due to the lack of rules in place to regulate the sector, and only houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) require formal documentation.
It is only in England that a formal landlord register or licence does not exist; in Scotland a registration scheme has operated since 2006 and Wales very recently introduced Rent Smart Wales, a scheme that requires landlords to register information about themselves, their properties and tenants.
Councils across England have the power to issue landlords with improvement notices and prohibition orders, and then prosecute through the courts, but critics have stated that a licence is still needed to ensure all local authorities follow the same procedures.
Since April last year, the Government has had to approve any proposed local authority licensing schemes if they cover 20 per cent of the council’s controlled area.