Tuesday 20 April 2010

National regulator ‘with teeth’ needed to tackle Scotland’s dodgy landlords

Unscrupulous private landlords continue to operate with impunity and under the ‘radar’ of local authority registration schemes according to evidence from Govan and Govanhill Law Centres, submitted to the Scottish Government today, in response to its consultation paper on Scotland’s new Housing Bill.

Lindsay Paterson, solicitor at Govanhill Law Centre said:
“The very landlords who ought not to be landlords because they are not ‘fit and proper’ people continue to operate under the radar – they will never be refused registration or removed from the register as they will never apply to be registered. As things stand therefore, the private landlord registration scheme is not an effective way of ensuring those not fit to be landlords are stopped from renting out properties".

Govan Law Centre (GLC) has highlighted the major inconsistency of local authority resources deployed to private landlord registration schemes (PLRS) across Scotland.

GLC believes Scotland’s private rented sector needs a new national regulator with comparable resources as are available to the national regulator for social landlords in order to protect vulnerable tenants in the private rented sector. The current disjointed and under funded local schemes have failed to work.

GLC is calling for a new national regulatory agency with ‘teeth’, which should require all private landlords to undergo Disclosure Scotland checks in order to help establish whether they are ‘fit and proper’ persons to act as landlords. GLC is particularly concerned with the Scottish Government’s idea of giving private sector landlords the right to undertake ‘DIY evictions’ through a statutory abandonment process.

Mike Dailly, Principal Solicitor at GLC said:
“In our experience all too many private sector landlords routinely ignore the law, so to suggest they should be given the power to carry out a ‘DIY eviction’ in certain circumstances is extremely unwise. Govan Law Centre is concerned that such a power would be automatically abused with many vulnerable tenants and their families being summarily evicted at all hours of the day and night. The Scottish Government’s consultation paper has a lot of good ideas, but this is not one of them”

GLC’s full consultation response is available online here.

The Scottish Government's consultation paper is available online here.

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