Controversial Housing Bill given Royal Assent

Criminal landlords and letting agents can now be banned from renting out homes after the Government’s controversial Housing and Planning Bill was granted Royal Assent yesterday.

Under the new act a blacklist of landlords and letting agents operating illegally will be drawn up – with the new legislation also including the power to serve them with six-month banning orders – with fines of up to £5,000 if they are breached.

It will also see minimum fines introduced for housing offences, such as failure to comply with improvement notices, breaches of  licences or having overcrowded properties –  which can be imposed by local authorities rather than pursuing a prosecution.

The extension of rent repayment orders –  which would see criminal landlords repay rent to tenants or housing authorities – is also included, as well as a revised fit and proper person test.

Outside the Private Rented Sector the Bill also includes provision for discounted starter homes for first time buyers and ‘pay to stay’ plans that will see higher earning council tenants being hit with higher rents – paying a figure closer to the market rate.Other controversial elements will see lifetime tenancies in council houses abolished (for new tenancies only) and councils forced to sell-off their most valuable vacant council homes to fund the extension of right to buy and the construction of affordable housing.

The bill has ping-ponged between the Lords and the Commons as technical elements of the Bill were debated, but the House of Lords agreed not to insist on its final proposed amendment to the bill earlier this week, leaving the path open for it to become legislation.

To view the Housing and Planning Act 2016 in full click here.

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.

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