Government plans to introduce banning orders to root out criminal landlords have been welcomed – although the RLA says the new rules must be used appropriately.
The RLA welcomes the principle of banning orders and the database of criminal landlords and has long argued that those landlords who wilfully breach their legal obligations should face the consequences.
Now, in its submission to a Government consultation on the plans, the association has stressed there must be a commitment from local authorities when it comes to enforcement – with concerns raised about current enforcement levels.
The RLA is also asking that those landlords who find themselves subject to an order or included on the ‘rogue’ landlord database through a mistake that was unintentional, should have a formal route to be released from an order and from being listed on the database where appropriate.
It also wants believe provisions for landlords who demonstrate remorse and undertake appropriate education or training.
Other concerns raised in the submission, which can be viewed here, are that well-intentioned landlords may fall foul of ‘relevant housing offences’ – as committing just one offence can lead to being placed on the register, or receiving a banning order.
As per the RLA submission to the Housing and Planning Bill 2016, the association proposes banned landlords have their properties made subject to selective licensing under the Housing Act 2004 with a presumption that the banned landlord cannot be a licence holder. This would work as an alternative to Local Authority management orders that are already very rarely taken up by local authorities due to limits on time and resources
The submission reads: “We hope that the process of banning orders and the ‘rogue’ database will be used in the spirit it is intended to root out criminal landlords operating in the PRS.
“It is important that local authorities retain the confidence of the majority of compliant landlords by using the civil penalty regime sensibly.
“It should not be used to punish minor breaches that would previously have been dealt with informally.
“Neither should local authorities look to apply large civil penalties of up to £30,000 where very serious breaches have occurred, as an alternative to prosecution.”
“We do not believe that repeat offending should be dealt with by higher penalties. Repeat offending should be dealt with by full prosecution in the Magistrates Court in which an unlimited fine is available.”
To read the submission, which includes details of the offenses the RLA believes should and shouldn’t be included in the legislation click here.