- Landlords and agents who mistreat tenants could be banned from letting homes
- Government consultation follows tax crackdown on buy-to-let
- Ban on tenant fees charged by agents also being consulted on
The Government has revealed it will consult on plans to ban ‘rogue’ landlords and property agents who fail to provide tenants with a safe place to live.
The proposals, set out by housing minister Gavin Barwell, threaten landlords and agents who mistreat their tenants with a ban that could even be lifelong – preventing them from letting or managing a property indefinitely.
Housing minister Gavin Barwell claims the bans will protect millions of tenants
If a banning order is issued, the offender’s name would also be included in a national database of rogue landlords and property agents.
Under the proposals, bans could be issued when rogue landlords commit ‘serious offences’ against tenants, including failing to carry out work required by the council to prevent a health and safety risk to tenants, threatening tenants with violence, or illegally evicting them.
Barwell said: ‘Banning orders will allow us to drive out the worst offenders and help make sure millions of hard-working private tenants across the country are protected from exploitation.
‘While the vast majority of landlords are responsible we are determined to tackle the minority who abuse and exploit vulnerable people.’
The announcement last week was the latest in a series of policy changes aimed at landlords.
In April HMRC slapped a 3 per cent stamp duty surcharge on all buy-to-let property purchases and last month the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond confirmed that tax relief on buy-to-let mortgage interest would be removed over four years and replaced with a flat rate 20 per cent tax credit.
Further restrictions have been placed on buy-to-let lenders by the Bank of England, making it much harder to borrow against buy-to-let.
Barwell said proposals to ban landlords and agents who fail to look after tenants were ‘part of the Government’s commitment to improving standards within the private rented sector’.
He added: ‘Banning orders will force the most serious and prolific offenders to either drastically improve the standard of the accommodation they rent out, or to leave the sector entirely, with a minimum ban lasting 12 months and no upper limit for a maximum ban.’
Those subject to banning orders will also not be able to earn income from renting out housing or engaging in letting agency or property management work.
Landlords could also find that their property could be made the subject of a management order by the local authority, which allows the council to rent out the property instead.
Rob Bence, a private landlord and co-founder of landlord portal The Property Hub, said: ‘This move should be welcomed by the industry. While Government intervention in recent months has been largely to the detriment of landlords this action will only benefit the sector.
‘For too long landlords have been tarred with the same brush and rogue property investors and agents have ruined things for everyone else.’
Bence warned that, with so many policy changes targeting landlords, it has ‘never been easier to blame the private rented sector for all of the housing market ills’.
He added: ‘Landlords are being made the scapegoats and unprofessional and rogue landlords only make it more difficult for good landlords to prove their worth.
‘By cleaning up the industry and banning those landlords and letting agents who should never be allowed to operate in the sector, the reputation of the private rented sector will improve and professional and hardworking landlords and investors will prosper.’
The Government confirmed that the definition of a banning order offence will not be retrospective and will only relate to offences committed after the regulations have come into force.
GROUNDS FOR BANNING ROGUE LANDLORDS
The Government is considering the following as grounds to ban a landlord or property agent.
- illegally evicting a tenant
- renting out a property decided to be unsafe as a dwelling by local authorities
- failing to carry out works required by local authorities to prevent health and safety risk to tenants
- renting out a property to an illegal migrant
- using violence, or threatening violence against a tenant
- making fraudulent applications for housing benefit, or committing identity theft
- using the property to cultivate cannabis
- theft or criminal damage
- colluding with the tenant to commit a criminal offence, such as tax evasion or the supply of illegal drugs