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Will Landlords need a licence for all rental properties?

The housing minister Brandon Lewis himself appears to have been among those caught on the hop by ...

The housing minister Brandon Lewis himself appears to have been among those caught on the hop by the Prime Minister’s shock announcement that he will introduce mandatory licensing of private landlords.

Lewis rejected “unnecessary and excessive regulation” of the private rented sector just one day before David Cameron’s announcement.

Lewis was commenting on a new report by Citizens’ Advice.

The report claimed that many tenants are living in dangerous accommodation.

Lewis said in this context: “No tenant should expect to live in unsafe housing which is why we have already introduced a range of powers for councils to tackle rogue landlords backed by £6.7m of Government funding.

“The majority of landlords provide decent well maintained homes and unnecessary and excessive regulation on the private rented sector, would push up prices and restrict choice for tenants.”

There is no detail on Cameron’s plans – its timing, how it will be policed and whether as seems highly likely it will extend to letting agents – but this may change tomorrow with the Queen’s Speech.

In a blog on the Nearly Legal site, housing lawyer Giles Peaker attacks Cameron’s plans as containing some “incredibly stupid ideas”.

Peaker, of law firm Anthony Gold, said no one foresaw the introduction of mandatory licensing for landlords – not the landlord organisations and not the housing minister.

Peaker says: “Obviously a lot will depend on the detail, but in itself, this is not an odious plan.”

However, Peaker does say that the decision to roll out the right to rent nationally from the current west midlands pilot – even before it has been evaluated – is “odious and badly thought out”.

Cameron also announced that “we’ll change the rules so landlords can evict illegal immigrants more quickly”.

Peaker says: “What to make of ‘quicker’ evictions? Let alone a proposed complete rewriting of the fundamental tenets of landlord and tenant law by creating ‘conditional’ tenancies, that automatically end on a condition being met (or not met)?

“It may be that these bright ideas quietly wither and die once someone figures out what an utter mess implementing them would turn out to be.

“Still, anyone expecting housing law to be relatively quiet in this parliament has just been disabused of the idea.”

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