AN UPCOMING bill to reform the private rented sector must include extra powers to clamp down on rogue landlords, the council has urged.

In a letter to the government sent last month, Green councillors from Brighton and Hove City Council called on ministers to include a national landlord register in plans for the Renters Reform Bill to help drive accountability for tenants.

In the letter to Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Michael Gove, council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty said such a register "would save our enforcement teams a huge amount of time and resource and crucially give us the ability to share information more easily between local authority areas - properly holding negligent landlords to account".

He said: "We believe it is vital accountability is introduced into the sector to drive up conditions, reward good landlord behaviour, weed out the bad and ultimately secure a better rental market for all."

A response by Eddie Hughes, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, suggested reforms including "lifetime tenancy deposits" and better standards are being planned by the government, with research being conducted into a national landlord register.

Mr Hughes said: "The government has committed to exploring the merits of introducing a landlord register in England to drive improvements in privately rented accommodation and to support local authorities to conduct well-targeted effective enforcement activity.

"To explore the merits of introducing a landlord register in England, the department has been conducting user research with potential users of a register such as private landlords, local authority enforcement officers, letting agents and tenants.

"We will publish a White Paper in 2022 that will set out our plans to introduce these once-in-a-generation reforms to create a fairer private rented sector."

However, Green councillors have said ministers are once again failing private renters by not providing a guarantee or timescale for implementation.

Green councillor and member of the housing committee Martin Osbourne said: "While it's welcome to hear a government minister finally acknowledge that reforms to support renters are needed, the poor response and recent chaos engulfing the Conservative Party will leave tenants far from reassured that the delivery of the so-called 'renters reform bill' is on the cards.

"It’s beyond urgent that government works to shift the responsibility of support in the private rented sector on to landlords, to ensure better protections for tenants. As renters are being squeezed more than ever by rising costs and fuel bills, progress is needed now."

He said the council was doing "all we can to push for better rights for renters", with an investment of £200,000 into recruiting more people to their housing enforcement team and continuing work on a local landlord licensing scheme, with hopes to develop a council-run, not-for-profit lettings agency.

A campaign by housing charity Shelter found that 45 per cent of renters have been victims of illegal acts by their landlord or letting agent, with council enforcement teams often held back by a lack of funding to local councils, a lack of powers to act, and no centralised data on landlords operating in the area.

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