“Local authorities should have the power to confiscate properties”

by Property 118

9:30 AM, 19th April 2018
About 7 months ago

“Local authorities should have the power to confiscate properties”

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“Local authorities should have the power to confiscate properties”

“We have received evidence that civil penalties are not strong enough to deter landlords who are prepared to commit the most serious offences, and fines issued through the courts are often insufficient to make prosecutions worthwhile. We believe local authorities should have the power to levy more substantial fines, which might stand a chance of breaking the business models of the worst offenders. Further, local authorities should have the power to confiscate properties from those landlords committing the most egregious offences and whose business model relies on the exploitation of vulnerable tenants. Coupled with the banning orders which came into force in April, this would act as a more powerful deterrent than the existing provisions.”

The above is a quote from the The Housing Communities and Local Government Committee’s 4th report. Click here to read the full report.

However, the report does state that the vast majority of private rented tenants are satisfied with the quality of their homes.

The report focuses on the bottom end of the market where 800,000 PRS homes have a category 1 hazard eg. mould, faulty wiring and gas appliances etc. Within this sector the select committee report made up of Tory and Opposition MPs said: “There is a clear power imbalance in parts of the sector, with tenants often unwilling to complain to landlords about the conditions in their homes for fear of retaliation. Consumer rights are meaningless without the ability to use them in practice.”

Conclusions and Recommendations of the report:

  • Tenants need further protections from retaliatory eviction, rent increases and harassment so they are fully empowered to pursue complaints about repairs and maintenance in their homes.
  • A specialist housing court would provide a more accessible route to redress for tenants and we urge the Government to publish more detailed proposals.
  • The Law Commission should undertake a review of private rented sector legislation.
  • The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) should be replaced with a more straightforward set of quality standards.
  • Enforcement by local authorities has been far too low and inconsistent. (six out of 10 councils had not prosecuted a single landlord in 2016)
  • We heard that local authorities do not have sufficient resources to undertake their enforcement duties.
  • A new fund should be established to support local authorities with this work, especially those that prioritise informal approaches to enforcement (The costs of investigations to pursue prosecutions against criminal landlords are rarely recovered through the courts).
  • A national benchmarking scheme should be introduced to support local authorities with enforcement.
  • Councils should publish their private rented sector enforcement strategies online.
  • Local authorities should be able to levy more substantial fines, which might stand a chance of breaking the business models of the worst offenders.
  • Councils should have power to confiscate properties from landlords committing the most egregious offences and whose business models rely on the exploitation of vulnerable tenants.
  • Decisions to implement selective licensing schemes should be made locally, where there is greater understanding of local needs and politicians are directly accountable to the electorate for their decisions.
  • However, the Secretary of State should retain a power to require local authorities to reconsider a decision to implement a licensing scheme that does not meet the strict criteria already set out by the Government. (the current process of application to the Secretary of State is too slow, lacks transparency, and is overly bureaucratic and unduly expensive)

RLA’s Chair, Alan Ward, said:

“Tenants and good landlords are being let down by local authorities unable to properly enforce the powers they already have. Whilst the MPs call for greater powers to protect tenants when they raise complaints about standards in a property, the reality is that these protections already exist.

“The problem is that over stretched councils simply do not have the resources to properly use such powers to protect tenants from the minority of landlords who are criminals and have no place in the sector.

“It is vital also that ministers adopt the committee’s recommendation for the speedy establishment of a new housing court. At present the courts are not fit for purpose when seeking to uphold tenant and landlord rights.”



Comments

Dr Rosalind Beck

10:22 AM, 19th April 2018
About 7 months ago

Of course the Government is already confiscating properties in effect via Section 24. Equity landlords have will be confiscated via tax bills - and this isn't confiscation of rogue landlords' property but rather across the board. We need a bit more carrot and less stick. Policies aimed at huge fines etc are getting ridiculous now. Hopefully the frenzy against landlords will abate soon as it's out of control.

David Price

10:39 AM, 19th April 2018
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Dr Rosalind Beck at 19/04/2018 - 10:22
In the current vitriolic environment Landlords should be thankful that the death penalty has been abolished.

John MacAlevey

11:04 AM, 19th April 2018
About 7 months ago

Hi HMG & locals authorities around the UK!
Good luck with the housing crisis that has been caused by you both..!
Sorry private landlords..it`s all your fault...as civil servants we have to find somebody else responsible for the problem.

terry sullivan

11:31 AM, 19th April 2018
About 7 months ago

most mould is down to regulations requiring inadequate ventilation and double glazing

Dr Rosalind Beck

11:38 AM, 19th April 2018
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by terry sullivan at 19/04/2018 - 11:31
Yes, it's a catch 22. They make us do stuff which then causes problems. Same principle with s24 - they make us push up rents through outrageous taxation and then demand rent controls.

Chris Daniel

12:11 PM, 19th April 2018
About 7 months ago

MCHLG don’t know what’s going on – or applicable to the Housing market. ! They haven’t long brought in £30 k PER Breach ! Civil penalties. !!,
Faulty window, loose carpet and Locks not compliant with BS Standards, that’s £90 k Mr Landlord – but now we want to re-possess your £350 k property. Are these REAL people dreaming this stuff up ?
In any event if £30 k wasn't enough such as Criminal Landlord, Overcrowding, as in Brent Council v Shah & others, unreported Harrow 2018, The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 has been used. - so even this seems 'Not enough'
They acknowledge that measures they’ve introduced aren’t being implemented – so WHAT are MHCLG doing about that – nothing !
Continue blaming Landlords for what is in effect, a shocking lack of Management and Leadership of L.A’s by themselves ( not aided by the abolition of LACORS )
Savage Javid needs to take some accountability. ! – and implement the existing legislation.

John Curtis

12:34 PM, 19th April 2018
About 7 months ago

This is just another nail in the coffin.
I have decided to dispose of my property portfolio.
I have a block of 9 flats under construction and 9 more tenanted.
I have now had enough and will follow Marks lead and leave this land to all the non-participants who demand everything for nothing and are entitled to their rights with no effort from themselves.
Enough is enough.

Old Mrs Landlord

13:17 PM, 19th April 2018
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Daniel at 19/04/2018 - 12:11The exmple you give of non-compliant locks is a difficult one to avoid given that tenants have the right to change locks without landlords' permission or knowledge. Problems are also caused when tenants object to thumbturn locks as their young children can let themselves out without the parent being aware, an issue raised by Mick of Nottingham (surname slipped my mind). As with tenants who refuse entry for gas cert. inspections, we are being placed in positions where it is impossible to comply with contradictory rules and are damned whichever course of action we take. No wonder so many are deciding enough is enough but this is just too much.

terry sullivan

13:20 PM, 19th April 2018
About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Daniel at 19/04/2018 - 12:11
javid is clueless--i think cs are running rings round him!

Mick Roberts

16:44 PM, 20th April 2018
About 7 months ago

Keep making it harder for us.
Makes rents go up which is harder for tenants and it's a spiralling circle.

Make it easy within laws of course and rents won't be as dear and more competition too which means more choice for tenants.

We getting blamed on the supply issue. No one else is was buying certain properties, so we housed someone when the Govt and Council didn't.

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