A Bill that will make it illegal to operate as a landlord unless you are registered,and meet a set of minimum standards, has passed its second reading in the House of Keys.
But the Landlord and Tenant (Private Housing) Bill was referred to a committee, with powers to take written and oral evidence, after MHKs expressed concerns it didn’t strike the correct balance between the rights of landlords and tenants.
Landlords of private rented properties will have to register with the Department of Health and Social Care, creating a central register.
Landlords and letting agents, and the properties, will have to comply with minimum standards, as set out in existing legal requirements.
And it gives the department powers to take enforcement action against landlords who fail to comply.
Douglas North MHK John Houghton said he was disappointed it wasn’t targeted specifically at the minority of bad landlords. And he said it afforded no protection for responsible landlords who fall foul of rogue tenants.
He hoped the Bill would make provision for a ‘meaningful list of bad tenants’, available to landlords, as well as make it easier to evict tenants for non-payment of rent.
Leonard Singer (Ramsey) and Brenda Cannell (Douglas East) agreed too many types of property – such as agricultural and holiday lets – were exempt.
Agricultural properties are covered in legislation and tenancy arrangements are very different, while tourist lets are highly regulated and inspected as a matter of routine, Policy and Reform Minister Chris Robertshaw said.
There will be no automatic requirement for an inspection on registration. Environmental health officers will conduct inspections on an ‘information or knowledge led basis’. Mrs Cannell criticised this approach as being ‘reactive’.
Mr Robertshaw said: ‘This bill is a specific determination to deal with a specific set of issues. It is part of a suite of work being done as the outcome of the housing review.
‘Diminishing it by referring to issues outside of it is a mistake because this deals with particular areas. Other actions will be done which deal with other areas. It is wrong to expect this Bill to be able to incorporate the myriad of other issues that exist.’
Appointed to the committee were Chris Thomas (Douglas West), David Cretney (Douglas South) and Mr Singer. It must report back to the Keys by the end of October.