“Local authorities should have the power to confiscate properties”

“Local authorities should have the power to confiscate properties”

9:30 AM, 19th April 2018, About 3 years ago 20

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“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

by sam

4:34 AM, 22nd April 2018, About 3 years ago

I wud support a consolidation of all the Acts n regulations governing the PRS, a special PRS Commissioner n a dedicated court for PRS. It should, in theory, b easier for LLs to understand compliance requirements, to voice against what’s unreasonable n to obtain speedy judgments. The danger is that, like so many things in UK, the way ahead will b ill thought thru n there will b lack of resources to make it work the way they r intended to. What the PRS needs is a single organisation where all LLs must subscribe to, to fight our corner. As it is, we r too fragmented to make a difference.

by R H

1:40 AM, 24th April 2018, About 3 years ago

lol pathetic just build more houses

by Luke P

7:51 AM, 24th April 2018, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Sami Houmrani at 24/04/2018 - 01:40
Whilst I wholly disagree with the article’s suggestions, we really need to think about this ‘build more houses’ thing. Government don’t build houses and neither do councils. It’s private companies that only do it if there’s (enough) profit in it. The notion that central government are spending tax payers money on building properties for the people and putting them in them just does not happen. Perhaps it should, but it doesn’t.

by Chris @ Possession Friend

10:44 AM, 24th April 2018, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by sam at 22/04/2018 - 04:34
Your and my notion of a 'court' implies, I would suggest, Justice.
I have only heard the government, or for that matter, anyone speak of the benefits for Tenants in being able to hold their landlords to account (no problem there, where Appropriate and not just as a winge to try and off-set rent outstanding )
Be careful what you wish for, as they say.

by Chris @ Possession Friend

11:02 AM, 24th April 2018, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Daniel at 24/04/2018 - 10:44
or, put another way, as I posted on Property Reporter ;
" Asking for something NEW, because what you've got isn't working is like the opposite . of 'If its not broke Don't fix it' Well Yes it is broke, but the only benefits I've heard from the government in a new Housing specific court relate to TENANTS ! I challenge anyone to show me official govt / MHCLG benefits for Landlords in a new Housing court. So, are Landlords supporting a new Housing court a bit like Turkey's voting for Xmas ? "

by Dr Rosalind Beck

11:05 AM, 24th April 2018, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Daniel at 24/04/2018 - 10:44
I agree, Chris. I also spotted that. The RLA has been pushing for this with the assumption it would be set up to benefit landlords also. But where is the evidence that it would? Certain landlords and also landlord organisations are in danger of supporting anti-landlord measures in what we know is a currently hostile attitude towards landlords. I don't get this approach at all of cosying up with the 'enemy.'

by Luke P

11:08 AM, 24th April 2018, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Daniel at 24/04/2018 - 11:02
They'll bring it in...eventually, but s.21 will be done away with and ALL cases will need to be assessed by said Court, with them wholly retaining the jurisdiction. There will be many, many cases of: "the tenant has 'tried' really, really hard, so we're gonna rule that they get to stay [without paying rent/trashing the property/upsetting the neighbours etc]." They don't want them evicted because they'll go to cash-strapped councils, cap-in-hand for a property they don't have for them.

Keeping them our problem for as long as possible will be the aim of the game.

by sam

4:08 AM, 25th April 2018, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris Daniel at 24/04/2018 - 11:02
I fully agree with what u say but that is a societal attitude issue. The concept of wealth distribution n social welfare has bn progressing for neigh on 100 yrs. LLs hv bn vilified for even longer. Until that attitude changes, which I doubt will b any time soon, no court will make any difference. However, it is ‘time’ that does the greatest damage. Whether we like it or not, there is already a court system in place that takes forever to get to n get thru. A specialist court may not improve our lot but it just may just speed up the process.

by sam

4:59 AM, 25th April 2018, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Dr Rosalind Beck at 24/04/2018 - 11:05
I can’t see any evidence of support for the LLs either. But I take to heart that ‘the species that survives .... is the most adaptable’. When big business meets big government, it is big business that has to kowtow to big government. Never mind us LLs who do not hv a central organisation big enough to present our case, to lobby for us n to influence policies - US gun laws is pretty much dictated by the American Riffles Association. What the government wants (primarily for purpose of vote purchasing), however musguided, will happen. No amt of anguish n indignation will deflect that - until it realises the errors of its ways when the consequences become too unaffordable n counter productive (for purpose of vote purchasing) - which was what happened to Rent Control - will it reverses its course. Of course, by the time that happens, it will only b cold comfort to the LLs who did not survive the onslaught. ‘I told u so’ won’t undo the damages either. The only thing that matters to LLs who want to stay in the game is survival until the tide changes which is unlikely to b any time soon. Of course, the way things r going, there may not b enough in it for many LLs who then move on to greener pastures.

PS I don’t, for 1 minute, believe that the government doesn’t know what it is doing or the consequences of its actions. For them, staying in power in the only game in town. N that requires votes. For us, we hv the option to move on or try to survive in the game. Seeing the government as our enemy isn’t going to help either course of action.

by sam

5:11 AM, 25th April 2018, About 3 years ago

I agree. Current policies r counter productive in the long run n I m sure, will b reversed in time. But then governments also hv to buy votes to survive in the short term. Survival of the PRS hinges on pursuading the government to see us as partners in the betterment of society rather than the world’s favourite poo-pee-pot.


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