According to the trade body the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) some of the laws that are affecting the PRS today date back to the 18th century.

They are calling for an overhaul as, in their view, these laws are no longer fit for their purpose.

168 laws

The NRLA’s analysis claims that by the time the Building Safety Bill is given Assent, the number of statutory provisions applying to the sector in England will have risen by 40% over the last decade to 168 pieces of legislation.

Of these 168 pieces, two are the Landlord and Tenant Act 1730 and the Distress for Rent Act 1737.

The NRLA has warned that the number of laws and regulations referring to the PRS mean that councils are unable to enforce them all properly.

“Data obtained by one of the NRLA’s predecessor organisations found that in 2017/18, 89 per cent of local authorities reported issuing no civil penalties against private landlords. Over half said they did not have a civil penalty policy in place.”

Full review

With the government pledged PRS White Paper on the way in the autumn, the NRLA is calling for a full assessment of the ability of councils to enforce the wide range of powers already available to them.

They are also calling for a full review of the 168 laws, to establish if they are fit for purpose, or if they should be overhauled into consolidated legislation fit for the 21st century.

Ben Beadle, NRLA’s chief executive, commented:

“The laws underpinning the private rented sector are not fit for purpose. They are failing to protect responsible landlords and tenants from the actions of those who bring the sector into disrepute.

“As ministers consider further reforms it is urgent that we understand the ability of councils to properly enforce these as well as existing regulations. We also need to use this opportunity to ensure laws reflect the realities of a modern private rented sector.”

“Lawless landlords”

Although the rhetoric surrounding the PRS tends to lean towards “lawless landlords” evading the rules and subjecting tenants to horror-story properties, this new report sheds light on a serious concern.

How are landlords to stay on top of all of their legal requirements, if they keep being added to? How are councils enforcing this seemingly endless list of bills?

For the sake of landlords who follow the law and the tenants who benefit from their properties, it seems a step in the right direction to drag some of these laws into the 21st century and ensure they are all fit for purpose.