We have now blogged about the Bill/Act on two separate occasions. This should be the final post, unless something else changes!
Part 2 of the Act is about rogue landlords and property agents. Under the Act, agents and rogue landlords can be banned from engaging in letting agency or property management work or letting houses. The Act does not state what offences could lead to a ban however, the Government has promised an autumn consultation on this, with draft regulations published in early 2017 and the measures coming in to force in October 2017.
Banning orders will be made by the First-Tier Tribunal (formerly known as the LVT) on the application of a local authority. The order will state the length of the ban but will last at least 12 months. A person in breach of the ban will be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a period of less than 51 weeks and or a fine. Any such fine will not exceed £30,000 and the banned person will not be permitted to hold a HMO license.
Further measures designed to tackle rogue landlords and property agents are the ‘database of rogue landlords and property agents’ and rent repayment orders.
The database will be established and operated by the Secretary of State and updated by local authorities. The information held on the database will include:
(a) the person’s address or other contact details,
(b) the period for which the entry is to be maintained;
(c) details of properties owned, let or managed by the person;
(d) details of any banning order offences of which the person has been convicted;
(e) details of any banning orders made against the person, whether or not still in force;
(f) details of financial penalties that the person has received.
The Secretary of State may use the information on the database for statistical and research purposes and may disclose the information to a person, on application, in redacted form. The local authorities will also have access to the database.
The First Tier Tribunal can also make a rent repayment order which will require a Landlord to repay an amount of rent he has received from a tenant or local authority by way of universal credit. Instances where the First Tier Tribunal is likely to make such an order include where a Landlord has:
– failed to comply with an improvement or prohibition order;
– evicted or harassed a tenant;
– control or management of an unlicensed HMO or house; and
– breached a banning order.
Applications for rent repayment orders can be made by Tenants or local authorities and the Tribunal will make such an order if it is beyond reasonable doubt (high criminal standard) that the Landlord has committed the offence. The amount of the rent repayment order will not exceed the rent paid by the Tenant over a 12-month period during which the Landlord was committing the offence.
This will significantly widen the range of powers available to local authorities to combat bad Landlords and Property Agents. Whether this is effective will depend on how well it is used.