Landlords criticise new regulatory body

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Proposed legislation to create a register of landlords and enforce minimum standards in the island’s rented properties has been described as ‘draconian’, ‘unnecessary and disproportionate’ by the Manx Landlords’ Association.

In a written submission to a Tynwald select committee, Manx Landlords’ Association (MLA) chairman Charles Garside said that while the Association acknowledges the underlying reasons for the registration scheme and agrees that government regulators should have ‘proportionate additional powers’, the Bill ‘contains draconian and wide ranging powers which are disproportionate to the potential offences contained within the Legislation.’

The Landlord and Tenant (Private Housing) Bill will make the current voluntary registration scheme compulsory for all private landlords and allow the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to enforce minimum standards in rented housing.

The DHSC have said that the legislation ‘aims to achieve a fair and reasonable balance between the rights of landlords and tenants under privately-rented tenancies.’

They intend to appoint environmental health officers from the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) to inspect properties and enforce standards under the Bill, and fines of up to £20,000 could be issued to landlords who are found to be in breach of the minimum standards.

MHKs voted to refer the Bill to a Tynwald select committee during its second reading in the House of Keys on April 15 this year.

The MLA’s statement to the committee notes that DHSC’s own properties will be exempted from the legislation while they gain more power over private landlords: ‘This gives too much power to the DHSC, as they will be [both] exempted landlords and impose conditions, fees and fines without recourse to Tynwald.’

It goes on to criticise the ‘absence of clarity and direction in the DHSC’s approach’, and suggests that the regulatory responsibility should lie elsewhere:

‘Regulation should be in the hands of DEFA and the environmental health officers, as they have the experience of the issues with property and would be better suited to regulatory and enforcement work.’

The statement also claims that ‘further legislation and regulation will be a disincentive in an already fragile property market which is severely suffering from regression due to the absence of liquidity’.

The next meeting of the select committee, including public hearing, will take place on Friday, June 20.

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