The government has published details of a tough new system of civil penalties to tackle rogue letting agents and landlords.
From today onwards these enable local housing authorities to issues fines to both landlords and their agents of up to £30,000 for a range of housing offences.
The measures are part of the promises made in last month’s Housing White Paper to “create a bigger and better private rental sector”.
“These measures will give councils the additional powers they need to tackle poor-quality rental homes in their area,” says Housing Minister Garvin Barwell (pictured, left).
“By driving out of business those rogue landlords that continue to flout the rules, we can raise standards, improve affordability and give tenants the protections they need.”
Offences covered include:
- Failure to comply with an Improvement Notice;
- HMO offences
- Failure to licence houses in areas where such schemes are operating
- Failure to comply with management regulation for HMOs.
These new powers, which were introduced by section 126 and Schedule 9 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, are designed to offer an alternative to councils to the costly and often lengthy process of prosecuting rogue landlords and agents.
The penalties will be applied through a First-tier Tribunal court instead of a magistrates court, and the level of each penalty will depend on a range of factors. They will include the severity of the offence, a landlord or agent’s track record, the harm caused to the tenant and to remove any financial benefit obtained by the offence.
The level of penalty will also reflect the desire to deter the landlord or agent involved, and other, from repeating the offence.
Gavin Barwell also revealed rent repayment orders, which force landlords or agents to repay rent, now covers the same (and wider) set of offences covered by the new civil penalties.
And from October 1st this year councils will be asked to set up local databases of rogue landlords and agents who have been convicted of certain offences, and banning orders for the “most serious and prolific offenders”.