6th April – as well as the beginning of a new tax year, is always a popular date for the government to introduce new legislation and 2018 is no exception.
From 6th April 2018, landlords could be banned from letting or managing properties if any of a range of offences apply; with a banned period which could be indefinite, this is a heavy penalty for transgressing landlords.
Debates in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords will decide whether the legislation is approved; banning orders were included in the Housing and Planning Act 2016, in order to expose criminal landlords.
Banning orders will work in conjunction with a register and database of criminal landlords and agents, which will go live on the same day. The DCLG will hold the register which will be updated by local authorities, as it is their officers who will be enforcing the legislation.
The offences which would attract a banning order from 6th April are:
– Illegally evicting or harassing a residential occupier in contravention of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 – always a serious offence, but previous penalties of fines or even imprisonment, did not ban such a disreputable landlord from renting again. If this legislation goes through, he would not be able to make another tenant suffer.
– Using violence to secure entry under the Criminal Law Act 1977.
Offences under the Housing Act 2004:
– Failure to comply with an Improvement Notice (section 30);
– Failure to comply with a prohibition order (section 32);
– Offences in relation to licensing of a House in Multiple Occupation (section 72);
– Offences in relation to licensing of houses under Part 3 of the Act (section 95);
– Contravention of an overcrowding notice (section 139);
– Failure to comply with management regulations in respect of HMOs (section 234);
– Providing false or misleading information (section 238);
Additional offences are those:
– Under section 36 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998;
– Under section 32 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Where criminal landlords are concerned, it appears that one serious misdemeanour is almost certainly compounded by others and the new penalties will also cover Immigration offences and serious criminal offences if:
1. (the offence was committed against or in collusion with a tenant occupying any housing (or another person occupying that housing with the tenant) or the offence was committed at or in relation to that housing;
2. (At the time the offence was committed, the offender was the residential landlord or property agent of that housing and
3. The offender was sentenced for the offence in the Crown Court.
It seems this 6th April legislation is meant to be a catch-all to remove the landlords who bring the sector into disrepute. But as it goes through the debating process in both Houses of Parliament, will anyone from any party, question how this is to have the far-reaching effects it aims for, without a massive in-put of funding which will allow replacement of staff lost in the cuts? Or will this be more pie-in-the-sky – well-intentioned but almost impossible to follow through to the desired end?
For advice on buy to let issues – Ask Sharon