Rogue Landlords Beware!
Rogue Landlords Beware!
Whenever there is a shortage of accommodation this can be an introduction to Landlords cutting corners and providing sub-standard accommodation. When desperate tenants are looking for somewhere to live they will sometimes elect to reside in accommodation which is unfit for human habitation. Too many flats are damp with dangerous plumbing and electrics and not every Landlord does the compulsory Gas Safety Check every year. Sadly until recently the Local Authorities and indeed the Government were slow to deal with this problem. Since the introduction of The Housing and Planning Act 2016 which was given Royal Assent on 12th May 2016, things are set to change.
The Housing and Planning Act 2016
Whilst the Act does not give a definition of what a rogue Landlord is it does give extensive powers to Local Authorities to deal with this problem. In particular Local Authorities are now able to make an Application for a “Banning Order” to stop a Landlord or indeed a Landlord’s Managing Agent from continuing to let properties where they have committed certain offences. Unfortunately, the nature of those offences have not yet been set out by the Government albeit that the Minister is just about to set out a list of possible offences for consultation. We are told however that the comprehensive list should be out by Spring 2017.
Once a Landlord is placed on the Banning List this will also go on to a National Database which will be maintained by Local Authorities and which hopefully should be searchable by members of the public seeking to rent property.
Obviously crucial to all of this is: what is a Banning Order offence? It may relate to having carried out illegal evictions, possibly it will relate to Health & Safety offences and it will certainly, I would imagine, deal with failure to comply with Improvement or Over-Crowding Notices. Will the Government be brave enough to extend it to harassment? We will have to wait until the Spring to find this out. Nevertheless, Banning Orders may also apply to where Landlords or their Agents have been convicted in the Crown Court for serious offences such as fraud, offences in relation to drugs or sexual assault that are committed in or in relation to a property that is owned or managed by the offender.
The procedure for getting a Banning Order is relatively straightforward and will involve the Local Authority serving a Notice on the Landlord and thereafter making an Application to the First-tier Tribunal.
Once a Banning Order has been imposed this can last for at least 12 months and if the Landlord is in breach of the Banning Order he will be liable to a term of imprisonment up to 51 weeks or a fine or both. Nevertheless, most importantly the Local Authority has the option to avoid prosecution and instead can impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000.00 on the Landlord.
The consequences of being on a Banning List will be severe for Landlords. Mortgage Lenders will almost certainly be able to search the List and being on a Banning List will almost certainly prevent Mortgage Lenders from advancing monies for the purchase of other properties.
The new concept of rogue Landlord and Banning Orders along with a National Database will go a long way to alert Landlords to the fact that simply cutting corners in relation to letting accommodation is unacceptable. This should lead to an increase in standards generally. For a Landlord to face a penalty of £30,000.00 is extremely serious. Further for a Landlord to be prevented from getting Mortgage finance by virtue of his inclusion in the National Database is perhaps even more serious.
By Russell Conway, 9th December 2016