A tenant eviction specialist has poured scorn over latest Government proposals designed to prevent subletting scams that ultimately lead to tenants being placed in unsuitable and cramped accommodation.
Founder of Landlord Action, Paul Shamplina said that the proposals would require a larger scale of enforcement resources in order to ultimately be effective.
The Government plans to alter the scope of mandatory licensing of HMO’s to smaller and medium-sized properties. It believes that by expanding the number of properties to which the rules apply, this will make it easier for local authorities to bring standards up in properties used as shared houses.
While welcoming the ideology behind the plans, Shamplina said that some landlords will continue to abuse the system. He notes that these landlords, ‘are guilty of exploiting the vulnerable whilst profiting from the housing crisis, particularly in the capital. Therefore, anything which helps to eliminate this problem and impose proper sanctions in the case of violation is a positive step forward.’
Shamplina feels that, ‘one of the biggest problems with implementing any new legislation is enforcement.’ He said that, ‘local councils do not have enough resources as it is, with environmental health officers already responsible for monitoring overcrowding, subletting, poor conditions, and most recently retaliation eviction.’
‘There is no room in our sector for rogue landlords, but to tackle the problem properly, legislation needs to be backed up by more boots on the ground,’ he added.
Proposals to tackle rogue subletting criticised
Continuing, Mr Shamplina said that the leading instigators responsible of setting up uninhabitable rooms are not just rogue landlords, but also tenants posing as landlords.
‘Landlord Action has never seen so many subletting cases as it has over the last two years, with an 18% increase. This has been fuelled by sky high rents preventing some tenants from being able to afford even single-unit accommodation, forcing many to resort to bedsits or shared accommodation,’ he noted.
A recent North London subletting case handled by Landlord Action uncovered a home where partition walls were erected in order to create more bedrooms.. Most rooms were just large enough to fit a single mattress in, with the rogue tenant subletting each room for £750 per calendar month.
‘Cases like this are not only damaging to the property and financially devastating for landlords, but are also extremely unsafe, creating untold health and safety issues, particularly relating to fire safety and sanitation issues,’ said Shamplina, ‘They should also act as a reminder to landlords of the importance of carrying out thorough tenant referencing checks, as well as regular property inspections,’ he concluded.