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Improving the private rental sector and tackling rouge landlords

Posted on 30th October, 2015

According to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) there will be new measures requiring landlords to conduct “right to rent” checks on their tenants’ immigration status before offering a tenancy agreement. In addition, there is to be a new criminal offence aimed at unscrupulous landlords and agents who fail to adhere to the new “right to rent” checks or fail to remove illegal immigrants from their property. Failure to comply may result in a fine, up to five years in prison and further sanctions pursuant to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. In order to assist landlords the Immigration Bill will include measures to enable landlords to evict illegal immigrant tenants with ease. It will essentially allow the tenancy to come to an end when a person’s leave to remain in the UK ends. A notice will be issued by the Home Office confirming that the tenant no longer has the right to rent in the UK and at this point a landlord would be expected to take action to ensure the tenant leaves the property.

In addition, the DCLG has also published a consultation on the government’s proposals to tackle rouge landlords and improve standards in the private rental sector. The consultation invites views on:

  • Data held by tenancy deposit schemes being shared with local authorities as a means of identifying rouge landlords.
  • A blacklist of certain landlords if for example they have been prosecuted for certain offences.
  • If particularly serious offences are committed rouge landlords or letting agents will be banned from renting out property.
  • A minimum fine for repeat offenders and whether the fine level should increase for subsequent offence. Such sanctions would apply if false or misleading information had been provided to the local authority, overcrowding was permitted, illegally evicting or harassing, continuing to let to an illegal immigrant or any other offence under the Housing Act 2004.

At present Rent Repayment Orders only apply where a landlord has committed the offence of not having a licence for a licensable property whereby the landlord can be required to repay up to 12 months’ rent. The government proposes extending them to cover other situations such as:

  • Where a landlord has been convicted of illegally evicting a tenant
  • Where a landlord has been convicted of failing to comply with a statutory notice, such as an Improvement Notice or Prohibition Order, issued by the local authority under the Housing Act 2004.

Furthermore, the government is considering whether there is scope to enable local authorities to recover more costs associated with inspecting properties and ensuring landlords comply with their obligations and responsibilities.

The above information will be of particular interest to local authorities, letting agents and tenant groups. A full copy of the discussion paper can be obtained from the following link:

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