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'Co-Regulation’ is set to change the Private Rented Sector forever, but what’s it all about?

Monday 10 October 2016

By Carl Agar

For years I have listened to and taken part in countless debates about landlord self regulation, selective licensing, landlord accreditation schemes and lots of other initiatives all attempting to address issues and make positive changes within the Private Rented Sector. The harsh reality is that the majority of these approaches fail (despite statistics being manipulated to demonstrate otherwise), the reason being is that no one approach can satisfy all parties involved and perhaps even more importantly the landlord community is notoriously difficult to engage with or reach. When I first began working in the PRS I noticed one key thing and that was that there was a massive gulf between landlords and the local authorities and the relationship was fraught to say the least. Why? In a nutshell landlords are driven by profit and local authorities are driven by housing need and neither truly accepts the other's perspective. On top of that in many cases a landlord’s only interaction with the local authority is through enforcement action or eviction proceedings, which is not a great basis to build a budding relationship.

 

So what’s the problem? We are now at a point where the size of private rented sector has surpassed the size of the social housing sector and therefore the PRS is increasingly becoming responsible for providing housing for the people in society deemed the most vulnerable or in need of support. The issue being that in general the PRS is not equipped or motivated to provide the level of support required or expected, which ultimately ends in conflict! This conflict manifests itself ultimately as anti social behaviour, tenant and landlord conflict, housing disrepair, evictions (some illegal), dilapidated buildings and empty buildings blighting communities. In an attempt to address these problems local authorities all across the country are reaching for selective licensing as in their eyes, landlords are unable to self regulate themselves in these areas. Whenever this happens the landlord community is ‘up in arms’ as it’s their view that the local authority already has the powers it needs and they are simply not using them, leading to even more conflict but now between landlords and local authorities.

 

So what’s the answer? It has to be co-regulation. I’m pleased to say that over the last 18 months I have been involved in something revolutionary and that something is being coined as co-regulation. Doncaster council have been the first local authority in the country, quickly followed by West Lindsey district council, to trial the co-regulation approach and its delivering results! The concept is relatively straight forward, the local authority still implements their selective licence scheme but those landlords willing to engage may acquire their licence at a massively discounted price by joining the local authorities co-regulation partners scheme. In doing so the local authority allows the co-regulating partner to manage its member’s compliance with selective licensing as well as provide support, training and a comprehensive inspection regime. Meanwhile the local authority can then focus its resources on the non compliant / criminal landlords and troublesome properties, essentially those outside of their co-regulation partners scheme. The outcome is quite simple, issues get resolved faster and the good landlords get the support they need! In the coming weeks I will be discussing the first year results of the Doncaster scheme which I think you will find an eye opener to say the least!

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Article by:

Carl Agar

Carl Agar

Carl Agar is the managing Director of Big Red House letting agents, founder and Chief Executive of The Home Safe Scheme, has been the Yorkshire representative of the National Landlords Association for the last decade - the UK’s largest landlord association, as well as being a Landlord and Investor.