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More enforcement, more arbitration - landlords set out demands

The government needs to beef up enforcement if it wants to address rogue landlords who put tenants at risk, says the national body representing landlords.

With the government pledged to publish a White Paper setting out proposed reforms for the private rented sector in England, the National Residential Landlords Association is warning that every measure in it will fail without robust action to root out rogue and criminal landlords.

As it today publishes its own shadow white paper for the sector, the NRLA points to figures previously cited by the government which show that just 43 landlords are currently listed on the database of rogue landlords in England. 

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This is despite ministers’ previous suggestion that up to 10,500 rogue landlords may be operating in the PRS.

Previous research by the NRLA reveals that the number of statutory provisions applying to England has risen by 40 per cent over the last decade to 168 pieces of legislation. 

It insists that these conclusions demonstrate that local authorities’ inability to enforce existing legislation, as opposed to a lack of powers, is the key problem in this area.

Figures released by Unchecked UK suggest that between 2009 and 2019 the amount spent on local authority environmental health officers in England and Wales fell by around a third.

The NRLA wants government to conduct a full assessment of the ability of councils to enforce the wide range of powers already available to tackle rogue and criminal landlords. However, central government needs to provide upfront, multi-year funding to help local authorities to build the capacity to tackle bad practice.

The proposals are among a number being put forward by the NRLA as the government develops its plans for the sector, including the ending of Section 21, so called ‘no fault’ repossessions.

In calling for changes that work for both responsible landlords and tenants, the NRLA is proposing a system that provides a set of clear and comprehensive rights for landlords. This would give landlords the ability to take back possession of properties but would balance these additional rights with robust protections for tenants.

In addition, it is calling for a new landlord/tenant dispute body, similar to the employment body ACAS, to enable landlords and tenants to reach agreement without the need to go to court. 

Where cases do end up in court they must be dealt with more efficiently, making use of video technology wherever possible. At present it can take around a year for a legitimate repossession claim to reach a conclusion.

 

 

NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle says: “We need to address the chronic failure to take action against rogue and criminal landlords. It puts tenants at risk and undermines the reputation of the overwhelming majority of landlords who play by the rules. 

“As ministers develop their plans for the sector, they need to be clear whether any of what they propose will be properly enforced.

“More broadly, it is vital that the forthcoming White Paper strikes a fair balance between the needs of both tenants and landlords. 

“It is in that spirit that we continue to work with the government and others to develop workable policies that protect tenants from bad landlords whilst ensuring good landlords have the confidence to provide the homes to rent the country desperately needs.”

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  • Yonnette  Roberts

    Good article. As an enforcement officer I am sick with new regulations and ideas to deal with rogue landlords. There are rogue tenants too. Until we have courts that deal with evictions and poor landlords and robust Enforcement by local authorities these issues will continue. The management regs used for HMOs should apply to all rented properties it is an instant failure. Landlords should use the grounds under the HA to remove tenants instead of using section 21. Criminalising tenants would help to add them to the database as well as landlords. This has got to be a level playing field for all parties and would allow both the local authorities and landlords to use it. I have tried to use Management Regs to take action against tenants in HMOs but no local authority would take action against tenants. “Not in the Public interest” which Public are we speaking about? There are good landlords who are left at the mercy of bad tenants. Landlords need to take action instead of mourning. Come on landlords let’s hear your voice. As a enforcement officer we can do our part but we need good landlords to help steer the way too.

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    Brilliant reply!

     
  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    We dealt with a mass Over-crowding of a Landlords property by Romanian tenants 'Found ' and installed by a Letting Agent, where they had previously been moved from Mass over-crowding at another property ( 20 + )
    Councils first response was to demand landlord apply for a HMO License and threaten Civil Penalty which they subsequently issued.
    Upon our representations, Council agreed to Withdraw the £5 k Penalty. They had imposed the same penalty on the Tenants ( fat chance of that being paid, or them being found ) and the Letting Agent.
    As a means of immediately preventing the massive Overcrowding ( 20 + found on early morning Raid by Council and police ) Council refused my representations that they issue a Prohibition Order to instantly vacate the property. Seems they won't use existing effective legislation, but just keep chasing Civil penalties - that's where Govt have shown them the money is ( as opposed to effectively dealing with problems. )

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