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.
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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