Government consult on new banning orders to stop criminal landlords and agents in their tracks
New banning orders to stop criminal landlords and letting agents from operating in the private rented sector look set to be introduced in England later this year.
The Department of Communities and Local Government are now consulting on the detailed proposals, including the definition of a banning order offence. The outline framework for banning orders is already in place under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.
The intention is to enable local councils to apply for a banning order when landlords and letting agents commit serious offences. Proposed banning order offences as outlined in the consultation include:
- failing to carry out work required by the council to prevent a health and safety risk to tenants;
- using violence or threatening violence against a tenant
- making fraudulent applications for housing benefit or committing identity theft
- using the property to cultivate cannabis
- renting out a property to an illegal migrant
- theft or criminal damage
- colluding with the tenant to commit a criminal offence, such as tax evasion or the supply of illegal drugs.
- threatening tenants with violence or illegally evicting them.
Where someone has been convicted of a banning order offence, the local council will be able to apply to a first-tier tribunal for an order banning the landlord or property agent from being involved in the letting or management of private rented properties.
The arrangements will not be retrospective and will only apply offences that are committed after the regulations come into force.
If a landlord or property agent is subject to a banning order they would not be able to earn income from renting out properties or engaging in letting agency or property management work. A minimum ban lasts 12 months, with no upper limit for a maximum ban. Their name would also be included in a new national database of rogue landlords and property agents that would be accessible to all local councils.
Housing Minister Gavin Barwell said:
“Banning orders will allow us to drive out the worst offenders and help make sure millions of hard-working private tenants across the country are protected from exploitation.
“While the vast majority of landlords are responsible we are determined to tackle the minority who abuse and exploit vulnerable people“.
According to the government, the new banning orders will protect tenants and target the small minority of poor landlords and property agents. They will also help local councils to take robust and effective action against people who knowingly rent out unsafe and substandard accommodation.
The banning orders will force the most serious and prolific offenders to either drastically improve the standard of the accommodation they rent out, or to leave the sector entirely.
Landlords could also find that their property is made the subject of a management order by the local council, which allows the council to take over control and rent it out themselves.
The consultation is open until Friday 10 February 2017 and everyone with an interest in the private rented sector is being encouraged to take part. You can find out more information and take part in the consultation here.