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Housing Minister: Criminal landlords to be tackled head on

RLA
Written by RLA

In a new press release from the DCLG and Housing Minister Brandon Lewis, the Government claims that new measures are to be introduced to tackle ‘rogue’ landlords ‘head on’. This relates to a new discussion paper outlining plans to improve standards of shared homes by extending mandatory licensing to smaller and medium sized properties…

In a new press release from the DCLG and Housing Minister Brandon Lewis, the Government claims that new measures are to be introduced to tackle ‘rogue’ landlords ‘head on’. This relates to a new discussion paper outlining plans to improve standards of shared homes by extending mandatory licensing to smaller and medium sized properties.

The proposals intend to make it easier for local authorities to raise standards in houses used as shared homes by:

  • making the rules apply to more shared homes, including those that are 1-2 storeys; current rules apply to homes of 3 storeys
  • ensuring rules apply to poorly converted blocks of flats and flats above and below shops, which are often exempt
  • setting a minimum size of rooms in line with existing overcrowding standards

In addition the government is reviewing the information requirements when applying for a licence in order to simplify and speed up the process.

The discussion paper is available to view at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/extending-mandatory-licensing-of-houses-in-multiple-occupation-and-related-reforms.

Responses are due by 11:45pm on 18th December 2015.

While the RLA would call these people criminals as opposed to rogues the Association welcomes steps to improve the sector.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:

It is simply unacceptable that people are living in cramped, unsafe accommodation provided by landlords who are more interested in a quick profit than the safety or welfare of their tenants.

The actions of these rogue landlords are helping fuel illegal working, benefit fraud, and illegal immigration by creating a shadow housing market that carries dangers to people’s health as well as communities.

The government is determined to crack down on rogue landlords and these measures, alongside those in the Housing Bill, will further strengthen councils’ powers to tackle poor-quality privately rented homes in their area.

You can read the press release in full on the Governments webpage: click here.

About the author

RLA

RLA

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) represents the interests of landlords in the private rented sector (PRS) across England and Wales. With over 23,000 subscribing members, and an additional 16,000 registered guests who engage regularly with the association, we are the leading voice of private landlords. Combined, they manage almost half a million properties.

5 Comments

  • I hope RLA won’t support these (as distinct from the minister’s rhetoric). The proposals themselves are to bring in a large number of additional 1 and 2 storey HMOs into the licensing net. Such proposals take it as given that licensing drives up standards. I have never seen any cogent evidence offered. “Rogues” often evade licensing. Even if the balance of advantage is in favour in some areas, in other areas LA’s have firmly decided against. So why not, as now, let LA’s decide? Localism instead of centralism.

    Indeed, (Labour-run) Cambridge CC, which has massive experience of HMOs, has recently rejected extending HMO licensing after doing its own survey into HMOs in the City. It concluded there was “insufficient evidence that additional licensing would be cost-effective.” I also have experience of Breckland DC’s additional HMO licensing scheme. It was very clear that the resources needed to licence all those additional HMOs were totally beyond the council. It took a year of emails and calls to get an application form from them and another 18 months to get the licence. Officer time tied up on the red tape of licensing means less time out and about tackling the rogues.

    As to minimum room sizes of 6.5sq meters, many HMO landlords need to check their room sizes very carefully because they may find quite a lot of rooms fall foul. 6.5sq meters is by no means tiny. In practice, currently LA’s operate a measure of discretion and will definitely licence some rooms marginally below 6.5 if they think that the property is overall OK and not crowded. The government proposals will have officers getting out their tape measures big time and the consequences will be felt by many. Interestingly, in my old student hall of residence, all rooms were 6 square meters. Will the government force the Uni to tear the block down?

    LA’s should retain discretion, treating 6.5 as a norm, but free to licence case-by-case if local circumstances justify. It’s localism rather than centralism – common sense surely. I really don’t know why the Conservative government is pushing this. I wake up every morning to hear of yet another new proposal affecting my business. The biggest risk is not the tenants; not the economy; it’s regulatory risk and the consequent unpredictability.

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