Avoiding the ‘landlord blacklist’
The government is proposing to blacklist certain landlords. Under the new proposal, local authorities will be able to apply for a banning order, which, if granted, would prohibit landlords who commit an offence from continuing to rent out properties. Rogue landlords and substandard lettings agents would then be added to an England-wide database that all local authorities would have access to. The government believes that this could help councils stop potential repeat offenders.
Regardless of the rights and wrongs of this approach, another key issue is the government’s failure to communicate this to landlords. Therefore, clear guidance on what constitutes a ‘rogue’ landlord, what offences could result in blacklisting and how long a landlord is blacklisted for, is absolutely vital to ensuring landlords don’t make it on the list.
In addition, law abiding landlords would need to be assured that their information wouldn’t be misused. Equally, clearer data on how many landlords there are and where, could aid with an informed discussion on housing, which is often based on assumption.
Refund for poor quality housing
The government is proposing that tenants should be able to apply to receive up to a year’s worth of rent repaid to them if their landlord commits an offence under the Housing Act 2004, uses violence to enter the tenant’s home or harasses or evicts tenants unlawfully. On the flip side, the government is proposing that when a landlord thinks their tenant has abandoned their home, they need not follow the proper eviction process.
Rogue landlord crackdown
Recent announcements by the government have targeted irresponsible landlords to remind them of their legal duty to tenants. This has resulted in a crackdown on rogue landlords who now face stiffer penalties as regulations are being outlined to advise tenants on their rights, such as avoiding renting unsafe homes.
The CAB believes that 740,000 families in the private rented sector in England are living in homes that present a severe threat to the occupants’ health. As a result, the government’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill and Housing and Planning Bill will aim to strengthen councils’ powers to tackle poor-quality privately rented homes.
It can be seen as a positive step for landlords, as the government has brought about the Bill to not only protect tenants but also support good landlords who provide decent, well maintained homes in order to avoid further regulation, as this often increases costs and red tape for landlords. In addition, the bill will help tackle the problem of abandonment in the sector, where a tenant disappears, leaving the landlord uncertain over their right to repossess. Therefore, as long as landlords comply with guidelines and meet the set industry standards, these new regulations have the potential to benefit and support both the tenant and the landlord.
Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill
Karen Buck, MP for Westminster North will introduce the Homes Bill for its second reading in the House of Commons in January 2016. If the bill is passed, local councils will have the power to ensure negligent landlords make the necessary repairs.
Campaign group Generation Rent said that allowing tenants to bypass the council and take their landlord directly to court would help protect them from unsafe conditions. However, the Homes Bill also protects the landlord from being liable for damages caused by the tenant.
Landlords must remain vigilant
The majority of landlords usually do the right thing and ensure they rent out properties that are of a good standard. New regulations set under the Housing Bill and Homes Bill will now add to the list of things landlords are expected to do. This can be a daunting task especially if you are an accidental landlord. As such, landlords need to stay vigilant of the changing legislative environment. More changes in the buy-to-let market will likely take place in the following months and this may change the way rental properties are let out and managed.