In our July members meeting there was much discussion between members and with guests, Bruce Lomax from PCC, John Stewart from the RLA and PCC Housing Cabinet Member, Cllr. Jennie Brent about the sort of world we would like to see when HMO Licensing ends (or is continued) next year, whether the Landlord Accreditation Scheme has a role and if so, how it could be improved and also what the PDPLA would need to do if we are to better manage ourselves and thus avoid further regulation.
For details of the meeting and some of our conclusions, read on...
PCC Licensing and Accreditation Update - Bruce Lomax
â€¢ Portsmouth requires more housing
â€¢ Problems with overcrowding
â€¢ Additional Licencing has been a success
â€¢ 3000 Licences with 15,000 people
â€¢ Licensing finishes August 2018 - Decision to be made whether to continue with licensing or change direction
â€¢ LAS was not a success - 2017 saw 160 members out of a total of 4,500 landlords in the city
â€¢ PDPLA supported the LAS in 2016 as it gave landlords a voice.
â€¢ LAS has been replaced with Rent It Right
â€¢ There is a website to put your properties on. Tenants are finding the site however; it is waiting for its main launch and will not be widely advertised or accessible from the main property portals
â€¢ Not restricted to properties in Portsmouth.
â€¢ The site will not be used to just get prospective tenants off of the waiting list.
â€¢ There will be a training course on How to Use the site
â€¢ At moment membership is free however there may be a charge eventually
How Could Co-Regulation Work? John Stewart, The RLA
Co-Regulation Scheme would allow us to be self-regulated within the sector
RLA feel there are too many schemes
Drive up professionalism
Avoids duplication of a number of schemes
Allows council to target enforcement
Local Authority can step in
Good for tenants
The meeting broke into 3 discussion groups focused on the LAS/Right To Rent and how to improve it, the future of additional licensing and whether the PDPLA should aim to self-regulate.
How to Improve the LAS / Right To Rent
Need to offer real benefits not available to non-members including the ability to park outside ones own properties in restricted parking zones with the same rights and costs as a normal house owner and a relaxation on the restrictions which stop us taking our tenants waste to the Waste Recycling facility without it being treated as 'trade waste" and charged accordingly.
PCC also need to resolve issues that arise if they appear to be operating as a letting agent. The PDPLA has already grappled with this issue and decided to avoid the problem by not advertising landlords properties but instead, by advertising tenant needs to landlords.
The Future of Additional Licensing
Bruce reiterated that if he could get better take-up of accreditation, this should be seen by the Council as a satisfactory alternative to continuing with Additional Licensing.
â…” thought if most of the objectives had been achieved the job was done, no point in continuing.
â…“ thought if by licensing the good guys Bruce could more efficiently enforce against the rogues then it should continue.
There were a few who would back "selective licensing" (of all PCC landlords or even all landlords) if it facilitated eradicating rogues.
The majority nodded they would join the new accreditation scheme.
Tony suggested that compared with other schemes it lacked incentives and that by not charging a fee Bruce could not give much away or organise benefits. Clearly the more incentives the better the take-up will be.
There seemed to be general agreement that those present would join the accreditation scheme even if there was a charge.
Any existing LAS supplier discounts should be maintained.
Bruce was reminded that a theoretical easy benefit to those in some areas would be to give landlords free parking permits in controlled areas so they could attend their properties unhindered. (Bruce has looked into this before and did not make progress due to resistance from the then Cabinet Member for Transport who was replaced 4 or 5 years ago, so this may be worth revisiting)
Members were concerned that though accreditation was without charge now, this could change at any time. When pushed, Bruce agreed that this would be for at least a year and Cllr Brent agreed with a nod.
Should the PDPLA Self-Regulate?
The discussion revolved around the potential workload should we decide to self-regulate and if we did, how we could minimise that workload and thus make self-regulation viable.
We agreed it was perfectly feasible on the basis that:
- We already have a Code of Conduct and a Compliance Process which has been shown to work when a non-member complaint is received
- We have a process for creating and maintaining checklists and guidance for members and it would not take too much to extend this to include 'acceptable standards"
- We also have a 'buddy system" which we proposed be extended to include mutual property inspections and mentoring
- We will need to formalise our CPD process (Continuous Professional Development) but with the CPD solutions already in place with both the RLA and the NLA we could simply provide a plug-in based on those and anything PCC adds to the mix
At the end of the meeting, no decisions where taken as to what the PDPLA will do as that depends on the form of the consultation that PCC runs and the decisions it takes at the end of it, but it is hoped that all concerned now have a much clearer view of the options available and a fairly consistent view of the best options going forward.
Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.