Please Note: This Article is 4 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

The government is inviting those involved in the private rented sector (PRS), including landlords, landlords’ bodies, mortgage lenders, brokers, letting agents and others, to give their views and concerns regarding its proposals on a rogue landlord crackdown.

In a discussion paper published Tuesday the government says:

“The private rented sector is an important part of our housing market, housing 4.4 million households in England.

“The quality of privately rented housing has improved rapidly over the past decade with surveys showing that 84% of private renters are satisfied with their accommodation, and staying in their homes for an average of 3.5 years.

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“The government wants to support good landlords who provide decent well maintained homes, and avoid further regulation on them. Unnecessary regulation increases costs and red tape for landlords, and can stifle investment. It also pushes up rents and reduces the choice for tenants.

“However, a small number of rogue or criminal landlords knowingly rent out unsafe and substandard accommodation. We are determined to crack down on these landlords so that they either improve the service they provide or leave the sector.”

The Government has published plans to establish a ‘blacklist’ of landlords and agents who are found guilty of ‘relevant housing offences’, to extend the scope of rent repayment orders beyond the failure to obtain a licence, and new measures to tackle abandonment.

The proposals are contained in a discussion paper, which also suggests a civil penalty regime for housing offences, and a revised fit and proper person test, with a deadline for responses of 27th August.

David Smith, RLA Policy Director said:

“The RLA welcomes this consultation. It is important to look at those things that already work well within the sector and also to use targeted changes to adjust those policy ideas or pieces of legislation which are not working as intended.

“The RLA is pleased that the government is taking a practical approach by looking at key areas in which improvement can be made rather than trying to replace or overhaul current mechanisms which often work well.

“However, this must not be seen as an opportunity to place new burdens on a sector already facing a string of new regulations and the prospect of major changes to the tax regime.”

The new initiatives follow action already taken to improve the quality of landlords operating in the UK making £6.7m available to a number of local authorities to help tackle the acute and complex problems with rogue landlords in their area, including “Beds in Sheds”.

So far nearly 40,000 properties have been inspected and over 3,000 landlords are now facing further enforcement action or prosecution.

The government also introduced through the Deregulation Act 2015 protection for tenants against “retaliatory eviction” where they have a legitimate complaint. This will come into effect in October 2015, and introduced measures to ensure fairness for landlords, making the eviction process more straightforward in appropriate circumstances such as the persistent non-payment of rent, which also come into effect in October 2015.

Subject to parliamentary approval from October 2015, landlords will also be required to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy, and to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms.

The discussion paper says: “The government is determined to go further and drive rogue landlords out of business.

“Our proposals include a blacklist of rogue landlords and letting agents, tougher penalties for the worst offenders, extending Rent Repayment Orders and introducing civil penalties.

“We also want to support good landlords and this document invites views on tackling the problem of abandonment in the sector, where a tenant simply disappears, leaving the landlord uncertain over their right to repossess.

“We are keen to engage with local authorities, landlords, letting agents and tenant groups on all of these issues. We want to understand how best to implement our proposals and avoid any adverse outcomes.”

The government also confirmed it will publish a separate discussion document in due course about the proposed extension of mandatory licensing for Houses in Multiple Occupation.

The measures will apply to England only and the closing date for comments is Thursday 27 August 2015.

Tackling rogue landlords and improving the private rental sector: a technical discussion paper can be seen here

Please Note: This Article is 4 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.
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