Rogue landlords are to be added to a database which will be shared with local authorities. The register has been set up by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government as yet another measure to crack down on rogue landlords. It is another way to try to force landlords who let illegal or substandard properties out of the rental sector. Landlords who are convicted of a wide variety of housing, immigration or other criminal offences will have their names added to the database. These offences could be letting out overcrowded properties, fire offences, gas safety offences or unlawful eviction. The idea is to set up a national register so that councils can share information and look out for landlords with a poor record.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has said it will regularly publish updates on landlords and agents who have been banned or have two or more civil penalties. Minister, Heather Wheeler, said the government is cracking down on the few landlords who let unsafe or inadequate accommodation. She said they are committed to ensuring tenants live in safe, good quality properties. She went on to warn landlords that they must face the consequences if they fail to provide decent accommodation.
Landlords can also receive banning orders preventing them from renting out accommodation for a set period, which could be from 12 months to a lifetime ban. Any landlord or agent who has a banning order will also have their details recorded on the database. If landlords ignore the banning order, they will face criminal sanctions that could mean up to six months in jail or an unlimited fine. It remains to be seen whether rogue landlords and those illegally letting properties will take more notice of this legislation than of previous regulations. It also remains to be seen whether local authorities will have adequate funding and personnel to actively enforce the regulations and check properties are of a good enough standard and have the correct licenses, and take any necessary action if this is not the case.
The government is quick to bring out regulations to crack down on illegal landlords and inadequate properties, but the problem is unlikely to go away any time soon. Unfortunately, with demand far outstripping supply in many areas, tenants may find they are forced to take any accommodation they can find. As well as imposing regulations to stamp out illegal or substandard rentals, the government would be advised to find ways to increase supply, particularly in those areas of high demand such as London and its commuter towns. Whilst build-to-lets are going up, this is not happening fast enough nor in sufficient quantities to meet demand. Landlords could be encouraged to invest more in properties or certain areas. They could be offered incentives to buy rundown properties to renovate or to convert disused premises such as office blocks or factory accommodation to provide much-needed homes. Investors could be offered the carrot, along with the stick, so the rental sector can grow, prosper and thrive.
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