NEW MEASURES UNDER CONSIDERATION TARGET ROGUE LANDLORDS
 

Rogue landlords are the target of new measures being considered by both the government and Labour.

The government says landlords in England who want to rent a property to 5 or more people, from at least two different families should be licensed.

Under the plan, the maximum number of people who can occupy a room will be specified in the propertiy’s licence.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says his party wants tenants to have more powers to avoid eviction.

There are about 4.3 million households in the private rented sector in England. About 500,000 are houses in multiple occupation.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said the changes, subject to Parliamentary approval, would make flats and one- and two-storey properties subject licensing.

National mandatory licensing currently only applies if properties are three or more storeys.

It estimateds that about 160,000 homes will be affected by the new proposals.

’Rogue Landlord Crackdown’

The government has also brought forward minimum bedroom sizes in a bid to deal with overcrowding and poor accommodation.

It is already waiting for approval from Parliament for regulations, which outline offences including burglary, blackmail, stalking, fraud and fire safety offences, that would lead to a landlord being banned from letting out property.

Those who are banned will be listed on a database from April.

Housing minister Alok Sharma said he was seeking to target “unscrupulous” landlords who profit for offering “overcrowded, squalid and sometimes dangerous homes”.

He said: “Through a raft of new powers we are giving councils the further tools they need to crack down on these rogue landlords and kick them out of the business for good.”

Elsewhere, Mr Corbyn told the Independent that he would abolish so-called “no fault” evictions in which people are asked to leave without reason.

” I think it’s a moral litmus test for the country: do we just put up with so many rough sleepers or do we do something about it,” he said.

Under Labour there would be an emphasis on longer tenancies as part of a “more regulated” private rented system, he said.

” I am very determined to bring some order and stability to their lives by longer tenancies and eviction  that can only be there for good reason rather than just what can be retaliatory eviction,” he said.


COMMENT FROM THE NATIONAL HMO LOBBY
 

The Government published a discussion paper back in 2015, and then a consultation in 2016.  On 28 December, they finally published their response.  They received nearly 400 replies, mostly from LAs and landlords, as you would expect, but also 32 from 'residents', which I presume includes the responses from the Lobby and its members.  It's gratifying that they note that "Tenants are sometimes exploited and local communities blighted through, for example, rubbish not being properly stored, excessive noise or anti-social behaviour."

The main extension is that "the scope of mandatory HMO licensing ... will apply where certain HMOs are occupied by five persons or more in two or more households, regardless of the number of storeys."  As you know, mandatory licensing formerly applied only to HMOs with five or more occupants and three or more storeys.  The Government estimates that there are about 500,000 HMOs in England.  The new scope should cover nearly half of these.

The new licensing will also "prescribe the minimum sizes of rooms that may be used for sleeping."  And it will "introduce a mandatory condition in HMO licences requiring the licence holder to comply with their local authority scheme (if any) for the provision of facilities for the proper disposal and storage of domestic refuse."

In itself, this new scheme won't prevent new HMOs (that's a planning matter) - but it will discourage prospective landlords, it may change the minds of existing landlords (who are facing other restrictions), and it will crack down on many poor landlords.  And it will increase the means of identifying numbers of HMOs. 

The Government "now plans to lay the necessary secondary legislation in Parliament and subject to both Houses approving these measures we will bring them into force next year" (that is, 2018).  NB this new legislation will apply only in England.  You can find the response at 

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/houses-in-multiple-occupation-and-residential-property-licensing-reforms