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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

RLA calls for clampdown on criminal landlords

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is calling on ministers to take action to find and root out the criminals who bring misery for tenants.

With a Housing Bill set to be announced in today’s Queen’s Speech, the RLA is calling for more effective action to find the minority of landlords who are criminals.

Under the current law, when new occupants move into a house they are legally obliged to complete a council tax registration form.

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Nowhere on this form does it ask the tenure of the property or, where it is rented, who the landlord is and what their contact details are.

The RLA is calling on the Government to include in the Housing Bill measures to allow councils to include details of a property’s tenure and details of the landlord, if a rented property, on council tax registration forms.

Tenants are already legally obliged to have such information when signing a new tenancy agreement. This proposal would make it much more difficult for criminal landlords to avoid being identified. 

Where a tenant is unable to identify their landlord, a returned council tax registration form without this information would provide local authorities and HM Revenue and Customs with much-needed intelligence to target finite enforcement resources on those properties and the landlords creating most cause for concern.

Alan Ward, chairman of the RLA, said: “Faced with staff and resource shortages, too many local authorities resort to over-regulating the good landlords who are easy to find.

“It’s time that we got smarter and ought to have a system which supports the good landlords while bringing the book down on the criminals who should play no part in a modern housing market.

“The RLA’s pragmatic solution would provide the intelligence enforcing authorities currently lack and would send a clear message to those that prey on vulnerable tenants – “there’s nowhere for you to hide”.”

The RLA is also calling for the bill to enable the legal information on the location of deposit money (once secured in an official scheme) to be provided electronically to tenants if they prefer.

Ward said: “In the 21st century it’s ludicrous that tenants can’t be told by email about where their deposit is being held.

“In shared homes especially, the mountain of paperwork that tenants are required to have can amount to a small forest’s worth of trees. This should be rectified with laws fit for the realities of today’s tenants.”

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  • Algarve  Investor

    All good ideas, but let's see if anything is actually done to root out the problem this time. I won't hold my breath.

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    I m not sure that this is the problem. I understand it's not only because tenants don't know their landlords, since many properties are likely to be managed, but generally more than not, because problem properties are known and there are insufficient numbers of environmental officers per borough to deal with existing complaints. I don't think supplying Councils with this information is productive. Just because a tenant doesn't identify the landlord on a form, doesn't mean that the landlord should be targeted as a problem. Sorry if I misunderstood. I thought it's more about enforcement than absent landlords, who can be identified via Land Registry.

    Again with deposits (and rent if paid to an agent) a good idea, but ultimately these need to be in trust accounts or/and insured where they should be ring fenced no matter the financial state of the agent. I m not sure of this is being addressed in the current housing bill, and then it makes sense to know details of the account the money is being held in.

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    Rogue landlords need to be rooted out, but it's obvious the gov't can see this policy is overall going to be yet another opportunity to top up the coffers.

  • Kenny Sahota

    Much more needs to be done to eradicate rogue landlords and the minority of criminals who take pleasure out of making money out of other people's misery. By the same token, we have to keep a sense of perspective. As the article states, this is a small minority, it shouldn't be used as a stick with which to bash landlords as a whole.

    The government's words seem a bit hollow, though, because they've not done a great deal on this measure since they've been in power. Hopefully that will change. Until then, I'll be viewing developments with a healthy dose of scepticism.

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