Campaign group Generation Rent has defended ‘safer renting’ schemes from councils, saying their purpose is to raise standards without fining landlords – rather than being a backdoor way of catching them out.

This came after Phil Turtle of Landlord Licensing & Defence warned landlords that these voluntary schemes are a trap; by allowing councils to collect all the information they need to potentially take action against a landlord.

But Dan Wilson Craw, deputy chief executive of Generation Rent, said: “Councils are generally eager to give landlords the benefit of the doubt and the purpose of these schemes is to raise standards in a structured way without the threats of fines.

“That said, it is only right that there is accountability, so it’s hard to imagine why any landlord who is actively trying to dodge the rules would sign up for one of these schemes in the first place.

“Ultimately that is why voluntary schemes will only ever have limited impact and it is essential that we have a robust, universal register of landlords so the dodgy landlords have nowhere to hide.”

Voluntary schemes include one run by Dorset Council, where landlords regularly meet to discuss best practice and the latest legal requirements.

In order to sign up landlords need to disclose information about all of their properties.