Landlord leader Ben Beadle has given Shelter a run for its money during a parliamentary committee evidence session on the Renters (Reform) Bill.
Beadle, who is chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, wondered out loud during the meeting whether campaigning groups like Shelter would only be happy once private landlords were ‘publicly flogged’ or ‘waterboarded’ if caught flouting the new proposed eviction legislation within the bill.
He was referring to earlier evidence by Shelter’s representative at the hearing, Tarun Bhakta, during which he repeated the organisation’s recent claims that the bill contains loopholes that will enable landlords to circumvent its tighter Section 8 notice eviction rules, and called for tough sanctions if landlords are caught doing it.
These will require landlords seeking possession of a property to move back in or sell it to prove their intention in front of a judge.
“The landlords will have to be satisfied that the landlord is telling the truth about selling a property – for example – and last time I checked, if you lie in court that’s perjury, which I think is a pretty strong disincentive,” said Beadle.
He went on to criticise Shelter’s suggestion that landlords should be fined severely if they relet a property following an eviction based on the assertion that they want to sell up or move back.
Housing minister Rachel Maclean, who gave evidence after Beadle, was asked what her Government will do to stop landlords gaming the system in this way.
She replied that tenants would be given access to the courts if the eviction was found to be illegal; that the new PRS ombudsman to be created for tenant/landlord disputes would also handle such complaints; and that the Government and local authorities would ensure private tenants understood their new rights.