On 31st August HM Courts and Tribunal Service published a range of forms relating to the Housing and Planning Act 2016 in respect of rogue landlords and lettings agents in England.
The Housing and Planning Act creates two new options for local authorities who have obtained a conviction against a landlord or letting agent for one of a list of specified offences set out in the appropriate regulations. These offences are known as “banning order offences” and can be more than mere property offences. On conviction of such an offence a local authority can apply for the individual or company convicted to be banned from operating in England (but not Wales or the other devolved regions) as a landlord, a letting agent, or both. Alternatively, they can choose to make an entry of that person or company on a list of rogue operators. There is a lot more on these powers in our posts here.
For a banning order the local authority must give notice to the affected person, allow for representations to be received, and then make an application to the tribunal. For an entry onto the rogue database they merely have to inform them of their intention to add the party to the database and it is for that party to make an application to the Tribunal if they do not think they should be added. The First Tier Tribunal (FTT) has yet to amend its procedural rules to give any indication as to how the process will work but the forms have some clues within them.
Where a local authority seeks to apply for a banning order the new form can be found here. The form is mostly gathering basic information but there are three points that are worth noting:
- The form asks whether a hearing is required so the FTT is clearly prepared to make a banning order on paper only;
- The FTT is also asking if there are any grounds for an urgent decision, so they are considering that there may be cases where an urgent ban is required;
- The form explicitly asks for copies of the notice sent to the person to be banned informing them of the intention to seek a banning order and any responses made and so the FTT clearly considers that to be important.
There are forms for an individual to apply to have the terms of their ban altered or to have it ended as well.
The form for a person or company to appeal a decision by a local authority to include them on the database of Rogue Landlord and Property Agents is available here.
As with the form for banning there are some points to note:
- Again there is an option to deal with this without a hearing. In practice this is a pretty good option for many landlords and agents. A hearing rarely adds as much value as the people seeking them think!
- There is also scope for an urgent application. It is hard to see the value of this question really. The local authority cannot put someone on the database while the FTT is considering whether or not they should allow the appeal against entry. Therefore, in practice, most landlords or agents facing being added to the database would probably want it dealt with as slowly as possible!
The form also appears to be a little confused as it is asking for copies of details of decisions relating to banning. Persons banned are automatically placed on the rogue database and there is no appeal against this. The form should be asking for information about why the local authority is seeking to add a person to the database which they should have sent to the person at the time they told them of the intention to ban.
Landlords and agents should seek advice if they receive notification of an intention to ban or to add them to the database. The time to respond is short and there is little scope for extending it.