Communities and Local Government CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Barrie George

I am in favour of regulation to enhance and professionalise the industry and drive out the cowboys. However this should be limited to agent and landlord registration without increased bureaucracy and increased cost to landlords and agents (ARLA licensed agents are already paying a considerable premium for the privilege of being licensed, putting them at a commercial disadvantage to non-registered agents).

Landlord returns are typically between 3–5%, which is hardly excessive or exorbitant. Increased costs to landlords and agents would be passed on to tenants in increased rents and would drive landlords away from the market, reducing housing stock, exacerbating the housing shortage and further increasing pressure on rents.

An example of deeply flawed and ill conceived regulation/legislation is the SHELTER driven outlawing of tenant charges in Scotland, assumedly to protect people on low incomes and benefits. If you want to help specific minority groups, then help the specific groups (in this case more effectively through the benefits system) rather than have blanket regulation which adversely affects everyone, including, ironically the very people it is trying to protect. Again, the tenant costs would be passed on to the landlords, increasing rents and reducing the housing stock available. It will also drive reputable agents away (less reputable agents simply cut corners).

We are in an open market economy with the safety net support provided for those in need. Private tenants should pay for services they receive like anybody else in any other business. If the safety net in this case is not working properly, fix it. Do not put the burden on a small sector of industry which is a valuable part of the economy.

January 2013

Prepared 16th July 2013