Government Proposals To Ban Criminal Landlords & Agents

by Mark Alexander

13:28 PM, 15th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Government Proposals To Ban Criminal Landlords & Agents

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Government Proposals To Ban Criminal Landlords & Agents

The Government is considering new legislation to enable bans to be imposed on criminal landlords and agents preventing them from operating in the private rented sector.

In principle this is an excellent idea because nobody wants criminals operating in our sector. They are few and far between but they tarnish our reputation. Helping tenants to identify and avoid the true rogues can only be a good thing.

However, we have some concerns. Government Proposals To Ban Criminal Landlords & Agents

The consultation paper appears to be extremely one sided at this point.

Will the legislation be fully thought through and will there be a quid pro quo to enable good landlords to identify bad tenants, for example, a database of rogue tenants who have been subject to eviction orders under section 8 or have had to be forcibly removed by bailiffs after failing to comply with an eviction order?

Below are some of the issues which concern us in respect of some of the reasons being considered for bans.

1. Renting out a property to an illegal immigrant. Landlords already face criminal prosecution for this, even they we have done it unwittingly. That was already overkill; to now ban us for 12 months because border control failed to do its job properly is outrageous and can only stem from the anti-landlord attitude of the Government (a recent survey found 92% of landlords believe the Government is anti-landlord).

2. Threatening violence against tenants. Any ban would have to follow a criminal conviction by Jury to be fair.

3. Cannabis farms. Sadly this is a problem for landlords. Whilst some criminal operators will 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 having been convincted as been complicit to the crime this would cause major concern .

4. Theft or criminal damage: it is bizarre that the Government should include this as something which landlords would do to tenants. Landlords have their properties trashed and items stolen when rogue tenants vacate and landlords face bills of billions of pounds putting these right and also face massive losses because of unpaid rent. The Government has got this completely the wrong way around. The police often tell landlords that criminal damage by tenants is a civil matter and we therefore face no recourse to justice. This is the issue the Government should be tackling.

The RLA summarised the key points in the consultation paper as follows:-

Relevant housing offences

  • Failure to comply with an Improvement Notice (section 30);
  • Offences in relation to licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) (section 72);
  • Offences in relation to licensing of houses under Part 3 of the Act (section 95);
  • Allowing a HMO that is not subject to licensing to become overcrowded (section 139);
  • Failure to comply with management regulations in respect of HMOs (section 234).

An offence under section 36 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998;

Failure to comply with a Prohibition or Emergency Prohibition Order under sections 20, 21 and 43 of the Housing Act 2004;

An offence under section 32 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 provided it relates to a property that is being rented out or managed by a landlord or property agent.

 

Immigration offences

Any offence, whether committed by an individual or a body corporate, for which they have been sentenced in the Crown Court (regardless of whether they were originally convicted in the Crown Court or Magistrates Court) involving:

  • fraud under the Fraud Act 2006;
  • the production, possession or supply of all classes of illegal drugs (including poisons) and/or managing premises where drug dealing and/or production takes place; or
  • any offence under Schedule 15 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (specified violent and sexual offences).

The offence must have been committed:

  • at any residential premises in England, or in the local area9 of those premises; or
  • in relation to such residential premises.

In either case, the offender, or a person associated with him, must have owned or been involved in the management of the residential premises concerned at the time the offence was committed;

In addition, neither the offender nor the associated person must occupy the residential premises as their main residence and the offence must relate to the occupier of the residential premises.

 

Serious criminal offences

Any offence, whether committed by an individual or a body corporate, for which they have been sentenced in the Crown Court (regardless of whether they were originally convicted in the Crown Court or Magistrates Court) involving:

  • fraud under the Fraud Act 2006;
  • the production, possession or supply of all classes of illegal drugs (including poisons) and/or managing premises where drug dealing and/or production takes place; or
  • any offence under Schedule 15 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (specified violent and sexual offences).

The offence must have been committed:

  • at any residential premises in England, or in the local area9 of those premises; or
  • in relation to such residential premises.

In either case, the offender, or a person associated with him, must have owned or been involved in the management of the residential premises concerned at the time the offence was committed;

In addition, neither the offender nor the associated person must occupy the residential premises as their main residence and the offence must relate to the occupier of the residential premises.

Other criminal offences

Any offence, whether committed by an individual or a body corporate, for which the offender has been sentenced in the Crown Court (regardless of whether they were originally convicted in the Crown Court or Magistrates Court).

The offence must have been committed against, or in conjunction with, any person who was residing at the property owned by the offender, other than a person associated with the offender.



Comments

Neil Patterson

13:56 PM, 15th December 2016
About 2 years ago

As ever the devil will be in the detail.

Eg. If you collude with criminals in creating a cannabis farm that is understandable, but there have been many great landlords who have been conned by organised crime rings and ended up losing huge amounts of money in trashed properties converted to cannabis farms.

We need to make sure landlords are protected from being victimised themselves and not made a scapegoat.

James Fraser

14:05 PM, 15th December 2016
About 2 years ago

I fully agree with and support all criminal landlords being driven from the sector.

However, it is essential that the staff/authorities enforcing this have a good understanding of the PRS all round and of landlords' individual efforts and circumstances.

Also, if landlords have to be criminalised, then so do tenants. Chase, Arrest, Punish any tenant wrecking house/stealing stuff (like whole heating system!), strengthen penalties for non-payment, and publish register of provable damages or arrears for all to consult.

Mark Alexander

14:46 PM, 15th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Number one on my wish list would be a national database of Court records to enable good landlords to identify bad tenants, for example rogue tenants who have been subject to eviction orders under section 8 or have had to be forcibly removed by bailiffs after failing to comply with an eviction order.
.

Tim Wragby

14:54 PM, 15th December 2016
About 2 years ago

An Excellent blogMark - thank you.
As you are too well aware, the Private Rented Sector (PRS) is awash with legislation and threats of jail or fines for crossing over the line. The elephant in the room is that despite the 140+ pieces of legislation intended to curb rogue agents and landlords, the prosecution or implementation rates remain woefully and pitifully low.
The reason for this it appears is that councils, or other authorities, are either unwilling or unable to enforce them. Like landlord licensing schemes they all sound good in theory and make catchy headlines for politicians to make out that they are doing something but in reality the license fee can only be used for the administration of the scheme and not the prosecution and enforcement. I fear that this will, if it goes ahead, will go the same way.
If Westminster allowed a system of letting councils keep the fines as fixed penalty fines and have the money they collected ring-fenced for funding the enforcement department then councils could employ teams paid for by the bad apples in the system. This would enable proactive councils look good in the eyes of the electorate as they could be visibly seen to be doing something, there would be a real and manifest threat to rogues to either comply or leave the PRS and drive up standards. In theory something like this would be a win-win scenario

Mark Alexander

15:04 PM, 15th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Tim Wragby" at "15/12/2016 - 14:54":

Hi Tim

I totally agree. In fact I'm getting de-ja-vue as I had this exact discussion with Ben Reeve-Lewis, a Tenancy Relations Officer in Lewisham, about four years ago!
.

David Price

16:12 PM, 15th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "15/12/2016 - 14:46":

I concur. Bad tenants lead even the best landlords to do illegal (but not immoral) things.

KATHY MILLER

17:16 PM, 15th December 2016
About 2 years ago

i have lost count of the number of trashed properties and unpaid rent .

They need to get tough with the tenants and make them responsible for their actions and if they dont pay the rent then we should have the same rights as they do for council tax.

We should automatically be able to have payments deducted, how is it correct that they can spend 125 PCm on virgin mobile but not pay the rent?

Has another landlord commented this would help to stop anti social behaviour.

They keep punishing the good landlords with increased costs and laws.

Mick Roberts

7:05 AM, 16th December 2016
About 2 years ago

You have got some BRILLIANT so SO SIMPLE points up there, that you, I, a 5 year old could suss out, but the Govt just miss?

The illegal immigrant, we get done for something when we are not Policemen. I've known a lot of my tenants since they were 5 years old being born in this country, but they would fail the immigration checks.

The Cannabis farm, I get a couple a year. And I only know after the event.

And the theft & criminal damage? Are they nuts! As we know, it is us that this is often against, but we get no protection at all.

And I also think, how can someone ever do good, if he has had criminal offence in the past & wants to then do good in his life? Where's rehabilitation?

What if a few crimes, then he/she then sorts theirself out & becomes great Landlord to house loads of people?

Grumpy Doug

11:21 AM, 16th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Can I suggest this rogue landlord as a starter for 10

Armed Forces families 'living in squalor' with leaking roofs and broken toilets

Servicemen and women personnel and their families are being forced to live in squalor with leaking roofs and broken toilets, a Government report has admitted as it warns the situation risking forcing them out of the Armed Forces.
The 2016 annual report into the Government’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant said the current situation “represents a threat to recruitment and retention, as well as the morale of our Service personnel”.
The news comes after increasing concern among MPs on the Public Accounts Committee about the quality of accommodation for families of members of the Armed Force.
The report described how families were being forced to live with “leaking roofs, no heating for months, broken toilets left unrepaired and limited access to facilities such as gymnasiums.
“For those who live in SLA [Single Living Accommodation] on a full time basis and for the many who are ‘weekending’, this contributes to a poor quality of life.
“This situation represents a threat to recruitment and retention, as well as the morale of our Service personnel, and is one for which we urge swift action.”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/16/armed-forces-families-living-squalor-leaking-roofs-broken-toilets/

David Price

11:47 AM, 16th December 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Grumpy Doug" at "16/12/2016 - 11:21":

Government always exempts itself, in any case it must have been someone else's fault.

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