Improvements to landlord registration, HMO licensing and overcrowding came one step closer today with a Stage 1 report from the Local Government and Communities Committee.
The committee has published its report on the Private Rented Housing (Scotland) Bill, which aims to improve standards and promote sustainable growth in the private rented housing sector.
While the proposals in the Bill will tighten up requirements in relation to landlord registration, the committee remains concerned about the implementation and enforcement of these provisions. This will be dependent on local authorities having the resources to implement the provisions and on the courts imposing higher fines on those landlords who fail to register.
The committee welcomes proposals in relation to Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) as they will protect groups such as migrant workers and support local authorities in enforcing legislation. The Bill will also establish a link between planning permission and an HMO license to address problems such as the sub-division of accommodation without planning permission.
While the committee agrees the issue of overcrowding must be addressed, it is concerned the Bill could complicate the current position on homelessness and local authorities duties. The committee believes that the Bill will make it difficult to predict with any certainty the number of homelessness cases and whether there will be space in the private and social rented sector to house displaced people. The committee would welcome more information from the Government on this issue.
Committee Convener Duncan McNeil MSP said:
“The provisions in this Bill will help tackle problems associated with unregistered or “rogue” landlords and the licensing of HMOs as it proposes giving local authorities greater powers to implement and enforce legislation.
“While the committee agrees with the general principles of the Bill, we believe that the success of any eventual legislation will be dependent on local authorities having the resources to implement it. Equally, success depends on the courts recognising the problems caused by 'rogue' landlords and imposing higher fines.”