Government Crack Down on Rogue Landlords

Street Sign: Changes Ahead

Rogue Landlords are in for a shock when they discover new banning orders and a national database of rogue landlords went live yesterday (6th April 2018).

In 2016, the Government suggested “banning orders would be put in place when rogue landlords commit serious offences against tenants. This could include failing to carry out work required by the council to prevent a health and safety risk to tenants, threatening tenants with violence, or illegally evicting them.”

However, the new rules as set out in the latest act formalise the rules and even extend the rules to those convicted of serious criminal offences regardless of whether the crimes committed were against their tenants or not. However, it is most likely that the majority of landlords who receive these will be for serious housing offences. With that being said, when Landlords apply for an HMO license, they’re required to do a fit and proper persons check which
involves a background check. If there are any serious criminal offences on your record, it is likely your HMO licence
will be declined.

Landlords convicted of a range of housing, immigration and other criminal offences such as leasing overcrowded properties, fire and gas safety offences and unlawful eviction, will be put on the new database, so councils can share information between themselves and keep a closer eye on those with a poor track record. This database will not be available to the public though we expect this will change in the future.

If a landlord receives a banning order they are forced to use a managing agent, it is important to note, however, that both managing and lettings agents can be banned from operating too.

But, how do you know if your landlord is banned? And for banned landlords (or any landlord for that matter), how do you know if a letting agent is banned?

On the 1st October 2017, the Rogue Landlord Database was created and was held by individual local authorities. Yesterday, this Rogue Landlord Database was centralised though it is still not open to the public, nor is it open to landlords and letting agents. However, London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, chose to make the City of London’s Rogue Landlord Database open to the public and has publicly welcomed other local authorities to submit their data to their Rogue Landlord Database.

It has caused outrage within the community of tenants, landlords and agents alike because how do tenants know whether a landlord is rogue or not? How would letting agents know if their clients are rogue? What are the implications of providing a Tenant-Find service to rogue landlords? Alongside this, should there not be a Rogue Tenant Database?

The private rented sector houses 4.7 million households in England and the government is delivering these reforms under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 so everyone has a safe and decent place to live, according to the Government.

Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Heather Wheeler, said:

I am committed to making sure people who are renting are living in safe and good quality properties. That’s why we’re cracking down on the small minority of landlords that are renting out unsafe and substandard accommodation.

Landlords should be in no doubt that they must provide decent homes or face the consequences.

The database will be available to use by councils to crack down on poor and unfair practices in the private rented sector such as overcrowded, squalid or dangerous accommodation and to help target their enforcement action.

Landlords convicted of offences under the government’s new law may also be given banning orders preventing them from leasing accommodation for a period of time, ranging from 12 months up until the rest of the landlord’s life. Councils must record details of any landlord or property agent who has received a banning order on the database. Landlords that ignore a banning order will face criminal sanctions including up to 6 months imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

The department will be able to use the database to publish regular updates on the number of landlords and agents who have been banned, convicted of a banning order offence or received two or more civil penalties, broken down by local authority area.

These measures follow the announcement that councils are also being given tough new powers to tackle the small minority of rogue landlords who rent out overcrowded properties and impose fines of up to £30,000 for those landlords who do not comply. Overcrowded and poor quality housing can result in excess noise, increased demand on local services such as waste collection and anti-social behaviour generally, which is why the government is determined to crack down on it.

Public safety is paramount which is why this government will support further measures proposed by Karen Buck MP in a Private Member’s Bill to protect tenants in both the social and private rented sectors. This forms part of the government’s plan to ensure a safer and stronger housing market that works for everyone.

Further information

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduced a range of measures to tackle rogue landlords:

  • Civil penalties of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution – came into force April 2017
  • Extension of Rent Repayment Orders to cover illegal eviction and/ or failure to comply with a statutory notice – came into force in April 2017. Rent Repayment Orders will also cover breach of a banning order from 6 April 2018.

The government has worked with Karen Buck MP to draft and publish the Private Member’s Bill on Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability of Housing Standards).

The following guidance for local housing authorities has been published:

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