The government’s plans to police letting agents and landlords from the private rental market via banning orders are ‘completely illogical and defeat the purpose of the legislation’, says ARLA Propertymark in its response to the government’s recent consultation.
ARLA is concerned that the database of rogue landlords and agents subject to banning orders will only be available to local authorities and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
“If there is no public access to the database how will landlords or tenants know if they are using a banned agent and how do agents see if those applying for employment are blacklisted or banned,” it says.
ARLA instead wants access to the database granted to industries such as it and the NAEA because “unless we are included we will not know if our members are banned or blacklisted” and be able to take the “appropriate action against any member on the list”.
But ARLA is pleased that the government has consulted on which offences by landlords and agents may attract a banning order and agrees with them, although it also says that agents who do not display their letting fees or who fail to sign up to one of the redress schemes should also be included.
The government says banning orders may follow convictions for offices in three categories of offence – the proper management and maintenance of properties; immigration ‘rent to rent’ offences and serious criminal offences such as fraud, violence, harassment or supply of drugs.
At the same time the government is mulling industry responses to its banning orders, one of the more serious cases of agent fraud has been highlighted in Kingston in London. Chatel Patel was jailed for ten months in April last year for using £27,000 of landlord funds to cover debts run up by his business, Giraffe Residential. Last week he was ordered to return the landlords’ funds and pay court costs, or face a further 30 more months in prison.