The government this month issued a technical paper regarding a range of new measures they are considering introducing entitled: ‘Tackling Rogue Landlords and improving the Private Rented Sector’
DCLG (Department for Communities & Central Government) suggest the idea is that these proposed changes are not aimed at the majority of good landlords in the market place. The idea of this article is to ensure that, as professional landlords, we are aware of what changes could occur if these (and future) proposals come into force.
The technical paper covers a number of key issues which may or may not appear in forthcoming housing policy:
- Aggravating factors in housing offences
The Government is determined that rogue landlords should not be able to profit from renting out poor quality and unsafe property – or otherwise fail to comply with the law. The Department is keen to ensure that the courts take into account previous convictions and that the fines for housing offences reflect the gravity of the offence in question.
An area of concern is the current way in which offences committed by a company are treated, specifically cases where the result was of a deliberate act or omission.
- Blacklisting and banning rogue landlords
In order to assist local authorities to identify and enforce against rogue landlords the Government is investigating the idea of a suggested ‘blacklist’ and proposal to ban repeat offenders.
The ‘blacklist’ would provide a facility for enforcement bodies to consult, listing those landlords and letting agents with prior housing related convictions. The objective being to allow the monitoring of those who may seek to evade enforcement by moving their business to another area i.e. a rogue letting agent moving from one local authority area following a conviction, only to set up with the same bad practices elsewhere.
For more serious and/or repeat offenders a system of banning orders is also suggested – preventing a landlord or letting agent from carrying out business related to letting or management of property. It would become an offence for them, or anyone associated with them, to be involved in such business.
Additionally it is proposed that authorities should be able to use the data collected by tenancy deposit schemes when landlords register deposits to aid in identifying rented property and enforcement against those failing to comply with their legal obligations.
- The fits and proper person test
In relation to HMO licensing, the Department is looking at whether the current fit and proper person test should be made more robust, by the addition of more conditions. For instance, some of those suggested are:
- Rent Repayment Orders (RROs) and Civil Penalties
The Government is considering extending the use of RROs to include:
· Where a landlord has been convicted of illegally evicting a tenant
· Where a landlord has been convicted of failing to comply with a statutory notice, such as an improvement notice or a prohibition notice issues under the Housing Act 2004.
In addition, DCLG are considering whether to introduce civil penalty notices to ‘promptly’ deal with offences without recourse to the courts - Such fines could be for:
Ø Renting an overcrowded property;
Ø Breaches of licensing rules;
Ø Hazardous disrepair;
Ø Poor sanitation;
Ø Electrical faults;
Ø Issues related to Infestation of vermin.
The Government has proposed a new process for dealing with abandoned property – removing some of the uncertainty faced by private landlords unsure whether a tenant has abandoned their home and concerned about accusations of illegal eviction.
To view the full technical paper Click Here
Now is the best time to be a DASH Accredited Landlords or belong to a landlord association like EMPO or the NLA thus ensuring you are up to date with any future changes