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Councils on standby over unfit landlords

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Councils could step in to manage properties if private landlords are deemed unfit, according to new government proposals on the regulation of the private rented sector.

Private landlords would be put on a national register and all have to apply for a licence if the proposals, which would require legislation, are implemented.

The licensing scheme, which would be run by a new national body, could work like a driving licence with landlords accruing points for poor practice and banned for repeat or serious offences, housing minister Iain Wright said.

If bans were enforced, management of the properties would be handed to the enforcing body, which, in most areas is the council.

Responding to questions about whether the new framework would increase councils’ workload, Mr Wright said: “No, I do not think it will. I know from experience in my own area that councils spend a lot of time and resources reacting to situations and this would provide a more proactive approach.”

He added that local authorities would have a key role to play in implementing the scheme.

The proposals were welcomed by the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACORS).

Executive Director Derek Allen said: “Licensing would help stop rogue agents being able to rip-off landlords and tenants, leaving them both out of pocket. Councils are often left picking up the pieces and this proposal will benefit all concerned.”

The consultation builds on proposals from academic Julie Rugg’s government commissioned review of the private rented sector, which was published last October.

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