New measures have now been put in place to deter rogue landlords and letting agents.
On 6th April banning orders and a national database of rogue landlords and letting agents were introduced as part of the Housing and Planning Act 2016.
Any landlord convicted of an offence, such as the unlawful eviction and harassment of a tenant, can end up receiving a banning order, which may last for a year or even longer.
Those who offend will be added to the new database, allowing councils to share information and keep a closer eye on them for repeat offenses.
A document entitled ‘Banning Order Offences under the Housing and Planning Act 2016: Guidance for Local Housing Authorities’ can be accessed on the Gov.uk website, providing a thorough breakdown of what this new development involves.
This guide discusses the specification of what should result in a the banning order. For example, it points out that when deciding on the length of a ban, the local housing authority involved should consider the harm that could be caused to the tenant. The more at risk they are, the longer the ban should be, it advises.
Heather Wheeler, minister for Housing and Homelessness, has commented: “I am committed to making sure people who are renting are living in safe and good quality properties. That’s why we’re cracking down on the small minority of landlords that are renting out unsafe and substandard accommodation.
“Landlords should be in no doubt that they must provide decent homes or face the consequences.”
This should hopefully be a step in the right direction for councils cracking down on the extreme misconduct of landlords and letting agents. However, with the database not being available to the public, could this be seen as an ineffective decision?
Most landlords and letting agents require background checks and references from tenants, which is understandable. Such measures are taken with the aim of avoiding any ‘nightmare tenants’, as no landlord wants to run the risk of rent default. But it could be considered that the requirement for a background check should go both ways. If this is the beginning of further improvements, then tenants may find themselves on more equal playing grounds with the process of finding somewhere to rent.
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