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BRIEFING: Rogue landlords face prison sentences under new rules

rogue landlords

Under plans to get tough on landlords, stricter standards will be brought in to eliminate unsafe and cold rental housing says the Government

Landlords could be facing six-month prison sentences if they let older homes that are unsafe and cold for their tenants.

Under new Government plans upgrade older housing stock in the private rented sector (PRS). These proposals have been published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC). Formerly the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the department is tasked with implementing the Governments 'levelling up policy'�, and this will be partly achieved through housing reforms.

The new policy proposal would see landlords who let properties that are below standard, and who fail to keep their properties warm, dry and in good safe repair, would potentially be criminally prosecuted in a local magistrate'�s court where a judge will decide their fate. The maximum sentence for these housing offences will be six months in prison.

According to Rachel Mortimer writing for The Daily Telegraph, the Government intends to introduce the new minimum standards right across the private rented sector (PRS) in England, which are similar to those already existing in social housing provided by local councils.

The intention is to stamp out poor practice and unsafe homes.

In a consultation published on Friday which will last for 6 weeks, from Friday 2 September 2022 to Friday 14 October 2022, ministers have revealed plans for a 'legal duty on landlords'� to ensure minimum standards are met which ensure their properties are in a "reasonable state of repair" when they let them.

The Government is encouraging individuals and organisations, interested parties to respond to the consultation via an online survey. 

Those landlords who fail to keep their properties up to these minimum standards will face either a civil penalty by the local authority or a prosecution in a magistrates'� court which could result in a custodial sentence as well as a ban from acting as a landlord or property manager.

The consultation will seek views from interested parties on the introduction and enforcement of a Decent Homes Standard in the private rented sector in England.

Currently, landlords who do not provide meet minimum standards face either a civil penalty of �30,000 or can be handed an unlimited fine by a court and banned from ever leasing property again.

The Government claims that this will introduce the biggest overhaul of the private rented sector in a generation once the new Decent Homes Standard is brought into force. The current standard is not legally binding in the PRS, though there are strict rules for gas and electrical safety and fire safety which can potentially result in a prison sentence for landlords.

The DLUHC says...

'The current enforcement system largely places the obligation on local councils to identify hazards in privately rented properties and take enforcement action against the landlord, who must then comply.

'This creates an environment where some landlords are not proactive in ensuring their property meets requirements and rather wait for an inspection to be told what improvements need to be made whilst tenants live in unacceptable conditions.'�

The former Levelling Up minister Michael Gove, before he was sacked during the ousting of the present prime minister Boris Johnson, pledged earlier this year to halve the number of poor-quality rentals over the next eight years.

Gove'�s plans could prove challenging and expensive for those landlords with older properties that need extensive improvements. Some of these properties will need thousands of pounds spending on them to meet the coming new environment standards - �10,000 to �15,000 pound upgrades to meet the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) targets are not unheard of.

Experts are warning that these tough new standards, along with the removal of section 21 and fixed-term tenancies will mean that more landlords will consider leaving before these new rules are introduced, exacerbating and already tight housing market.

Tenants just cannot find enough vacant rentals to satisfy their needs due to a severe shortage of rental accommodation. What capacity there is has been subject to kikes in rent levels and is now resulting in bidding wars between tenants.


ben beadle nrla

Ben Beadle, of the National Residential Landlords Association, told Ms Mortimer of The Daily Telegraph: "All the laws in the world will do nothing without improved enforcement against the minority of landlords who tarnish the reputation of the responsible, law-abiding majority.

"That requires properly resourced councils tackling the criminals and rogues, whilst allowing the responsible majority to easily prove their home is safe and compliant."

Experts in the industry have observed for many years the introduction of increasingly strict regulations which have failed to improve standards.

Generally, its the responsible landlords who follow the rules and meet the ever higher standards, but the rogues seem to get away with this because there'�s a lack of grip on enforcement by local authorities.


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