Industry to consult on rogue landlord crackdown
In a discussion paper published today the government said: “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.
“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.”
It follows action already taken to improve the quality of landlords operating in the UK.
The government made £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 protection for tenants against “retaliatory eviction” where they have a legitimate complaint, which 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 said: “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 proposed in this paper would apply to England only.
The closing date for comments is Thursday 27 August 2015.