Announcing the measures, Housing Minister Gavin Barwell confirmed the powers will give local authorities the tools to crack down on the small minority of rogue landlords who shirk their responsibilities.
This comes as part of the government’s plan set out in its housing white paper to create a bigger and better private rental sector that meets the needs of tenants and landlords alike, giving those who rent a fairer deal.
Councils are now able to impose fines of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution for a range of housing offences. They will be able to retain all of the income to make sure it is used for private sector housing enforcement purposes.
Rent repayment orders, which can be issued to penalise landlords managing or letting unlicensed properties, have also been extended to cover a wider range of situations. These include the illegal evictions or harassment of the occupiers of a property, using violence to secure entry and the breach of a banning order.
Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell said:
“These measures will give councils the additional powers they need to tackle poor-quality rental homes in their area.
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.”
Further new measures introduced today include giving councils access to tenancy deposit protection data that help them identify rental properties in their area, and tackle the small minority of rogue landlords through targeted enforcement and prevention work.
Letting agents’ fees will also be banned to give renters greater clarity and control over what they will pay.
The recently published housing white paper set out measures to build the homes Britain needs now and to give those that rent a fairer deal, putting tackling the high cost of renting at the heart of its plan to fix the broken housing market.
Other intended measures in the housing white paper to help renters include:
- encouraging further growth through of the supply of rental properties by amending planning rules so councils can proactively plan for more long-term Build to Rent homes
- looking at allowing developers to offer more affordable rent alongside other forms of affordable housing
- working to ensure longer-term family friendly tenancies are available in the private rental sector, including working with the British Property Federation and National Housing Federation, to provide more stability for families who are currently renting
The government also accepts the recommendations of the Client Money Protection working group, to make it mandatory for all agents to protect the client money they handle. The government will consult in due course.
Since 2011 government has provided £12 million so local authorities can carry out more raids, issue more statutory notices and demolish beds in sheds and other prohibited buildings.
The Chancellor announced at the Autumn Statement 2016 that the government will ban letting agent fees paid by tenants, to improve competition in the private rental market.
On Monday 27 March 2017 the Client Money Protection working group by Baroness Hayter and Lord Palmer of Childs Hill published its report examining Client Money Protection (CMP) in the market place. Government confirmed that it would accept the working group’s recommendation to make CMP mandatory in response to an oral question in the House of Lords on 28 March.
Our How to rent guide helps tenants know their rights and responsibilities. Letting agents are required to belong to a redress scheme so landlords and tenants have somewhere to go if they get a raw deal.
Department for Communities and Local Government and Gavin Barwell MP 6 April 2017