The government has today (28th December 2017) announced new powers to tackle rogue landlords, changes to HMO regulations, and measures to improve standards.
The criminal offences that will automatically ban someone from being a landlord have been set out by the government. These include theft, blackmail, handling stolen goods, harassment and stalking.
From April 2018, landlords that have been convicted of these offences can be added to the new database of rogue landlords and be barred from renting out property.
The Housing Minister Alok Sharma has also provided details on the new regulations that will be affecting HMOs.
While these new regulations will need to be passed by parliament, it will mean all properties that are occupied by 5 or more people, from 2 or more separate households will need to be licensed.
The government estimates that this will affect 160,000 houses and will provide further powers to local authorities to tackle over-crowded and sub-standard homes.
The new HMO regulations will impose new minimum size requirements for bedrooms in HMOs as part of the government’s attempt to prevent overcrowding.
If a room does not meet these requirements, then the landlord will be given reasonable time by the local authority to remedy the situation, and during this time they will not face any sanctions (unless the breach was deliberate).
The new regulations will also require landlords with HMOs to ensure that the council’s rules on refuse and recycling are followed.
However, the government has decided to not introduce new legislation for requiring criminal record checks as part of the licensing process. With the government claiming that the new rogue landlord database precludes this need.
Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma said:
“Every tenant has a right to a safe, secure and decent home. But far too many are being exploited by unscrupulous landlords who profit from providing overcrowded, squalid and sometimes dangerous homes.
“Enough is enough, and so I’m putting these rogue landlords on notice – shape up or ship out of the rental business.
The RLA previously objected to the extension of the licensing conditions for HMOs. With the RLA Policy Director, David Smith previously commenting:
“Councils are already struggling to enforce licensing schemes and the extension will potentially triple the number of homes under mandatory licensing.
“What is the point in introducing extra regulations if there are no resources to enforce them?
“Tenants should not be forced into excessively small rooms, but there are cases where tenants have other space available within their properties, which should be taken into account.
“By concentrating so narrowly on bedroom size the Government could knock thousands of rooms out of the sector, potentially forcing tenants out of their homes.”