Proposals to ban dodgy landlords and agents
- AuthorAndrew Turner
The Government is considering new legislation to enable bans to be imposed on what are deemed to be “criminal landlords and agents” preventing them from operating in the private rented sector.
The proposals have generally been welcomed. Clearly, nobody wants criminals operating in the housing sector. They may be few and far between but they do tarnish the reputation of residential landlords and agents. Helping tenants to identify and avoid the true rogues must surely be a good thing.
Concerns have however been expressed about the Government’s consultation paper. The paper does appear to be extremely one sided, at least at this stage. Will the proposed legislation operate on a quid pro quo basis to enable good landlords to identify bad tenants? Will there, for example, be a database of rogue tenants who have been subject to section 8 eviction orders or have had to be forcibly removed by bailiffs after failing to comply with an eviction order?
Other concerns that have been raised specifically about the following:-
1. Renting out a property to an illegal immigrant
Landlords already face criminal prosecution for this, even if they have acted entirely unwittingly. Some have suggested that criminal prosecution was already overkill and that to now propose to ban landlords for 12 months because UK Border Control has failed to do its job properly is outrageous and can only stem from a pervading anti-landlord attitude within the Government.
2. Threatening violence against tenants
Banning a landlord before there has been due legal process and a criminal conviction surely cannot be fair.
3. Cannabis farms
This is an ongoing problem for landlords. Whilst some criminal operators will happily allow cannabis farming, for most landlords, it is an absolute disaster. If a landlord who had been targeted by a cannabis farmer was banned from letting without first having been convicted and found guilty of being complicit in the crime, this would cause major concern.
4. Theft or criminal damage
Many landlords have raised the point that it is utterly perverse to suggest that this is something landlords would do to tenants. In fact, it is the reverse that is all too common. Landlords all too often have their properties trashed and items stolen when rogue tenants vacate and it is landlords that are often faced with bills of thousands of pounds for putting the property back into a decent condition. And on top of that, landlords face the issue of huge amounts of unpaid rent. Many landlords are saying that the Government has got this completely the wrong way round. The Police of course often tell landlords that criminal damage by tenants is a civil matter and landlords therefore face no real prospect of recourse to justice.
All in all, the consultation paper sounds like a good idea but it also looks like it may do nothing to deal with the rising tensions in the private rented sector.