Government Aims To Do More To Tackle Criminal Landlords

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mandatory Landlord Licensing To Root Out Criminal Landlords

Mandatory Landlord Licensing To Root Out Criminal Landlords

Mandatory Landlord Licensing Scheme
Set To Root Out Criminal Landlords

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has indicated that under the new Conservative Government there will be the nationwide introduction of further legislative measures to help rid the private rented sector of criminal landlords.

The announcement was made by Mr Cameron ahead of the Queen’s Parliamentary Address, in a speech discussing Government plans to control immigration. He mentioned the introduction of a mandatory licensing scheme for private landlords in a bid to root out the criminal, unscrupulous and rogue operators currently damaging the reputation of decent landlords in the private rental sector.

UK PRS landlords in the West Midlands were the first trial group to be forced to check the immigration status of tenants, either relying on in depth tenant referencing provided by specialist suppliers or manually checking every tenant’s details.

David Cameron said: “For the first time we’ve had private rented sector landlords checking whether their tenants are here legally. The Liberal Democrats only wanted us to run a pilot on that one. But now we’ve got a majority, we will roll it out nationwide, and we’ll change the rules so landlords can evict illegal immigrants more quickly. We’ll also crack down on the unscrupulous landlords who cram houses full of illegal migrants, by introducing a new mandatory licensing regime. And, a bit like ending jobs when visas expire, we’ll consult on cancelling tenancies automatically at the same point.”

There were no other details announced regarding the cost, scope or remit of the mandatory licensing initiative, leaving landlord associations and their members with a large number of unanswered questions.

However, Mr Cameron’s comments seemed to echo those of landlord associations including The Residential Landlords Association and the National Landlords Association.

Chief Executive Officer of the National Landlords Association (NLA), Richard Lambert, welcomed the proposed initiatives aimed at tackling the problem of criminals acting as private landlords to exploit illegal immigrants, stating:”It is essential that local authorities are given the necessary funding to ensure that they can enforce these powers effectively. This would help drive up standards in the private rental sector and send a powerful message to criminals. One of the fundamental reasons that a minority of criminal landlords are able to get away with providing poor living conditions is that local authorities do not have the resources to make use of their already significant powers. We would like to see the Treasury allow local authorities to keep the proceeds of the fines from prosecutions so that the local authorities have both the powers and finances for enforcement, without going cap in hand to the Treasury. We are pleased that the Government has given landlords the ability to deal quickly with illegal immigrants and hope this deters those that want to stay here illegally. We are however a little concerned regarding the Right to Rent scheme. Landlords are happy to help to check that tenants are who they claim to be. However this should not be a way for the Government to pass the buck on to landlords when tacking immigration. We also had several questions regarding the scheme at the outset which still have not been answered. We hope, before the scheme is rolled out nationally, that the Government take the time to review how the first phase in the West Midlands has worked and draws on the lessons from that, rather than ploughing ahead regardless. The introduction of a new mandatory licensing regime brings up some concern. We are therefore urgently seeking clarification on whether this would be new policy or related to the current licensing schemes.”

Chairman of the RLA, Alan Ward, said: “Faced with staff and resource shortages, too many local authorities resort to over-regulating the good landlords who are easy to find. It’s time that we got smarter and the UK ought to have a system which supports the good landlords while bringing the book down on the criminals who should play no part in a modern housing market. The RLA’s pragmatic solution would provide the intelligence that enforcing authorities currently lack and it would send a clear message to those that prey on vulnerable tenants – there’s nowhere for you to hide.”

Landlords can use tenant referencing to check the validity of immigration status for their tenants, as well as, amongst other things, credit, employment and rental histories.

It is not worth risking the £3,000 (GBP) fine for not having the time, patience or initiative to properly check a few details of the people who will be renting your property.

This was written by Mike Clarke. Posted on at 11:30 am. Filed under Referencing. Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments here with the RSS feed. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.