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The Housing & Planning Bill 2015

Article by Giles Inman on Oct 16, 2015 View in browser

The Housing & Planning Bill 2015

The Housing Bill was published this week and includes further measures intended to tackle rogue landlords and letting agents. ‘Highlights’ include: banning orders for rogue landlords and letting agents; a database of rogue landlords and letting agents; extension of rent repayment orders; greater data sharing (eg councils can access tenancy deposit scheme info); civil penalty scheme; a tougher fit and proper person test; and new abandonment process. It also makes clear that councils can use data collected for council tax registration for enforcement purposes.


Rogue Landlords & Letting Agents in England-Banning Orders

These banning orders, would be made by the First-tier Tribunal, which would have the effect of banning a person from:

• letting housing in England;

• engaging in letting agency work that relates to housing in England;

• engaging in property management work that relates to housing; or

• doing two or more of those things.

The Secretary of State will set out the regulations that constitute a banning order offence. Local Authorities (LA’s) in England may apply for a banning order against a person who has been convicted of a banning order offence. The decision to award a banning order will be made by the First-tier Tribunal who must consider a number of factors including the seriousness of the offence and previous convictions the person has for a banning order offence.

A ban must last for at least six months. If the order is breached a fine of up to £5000.00 can be sought.

A banning order does not affect or invalidate the enforceability of any provision of a tenancy agreement.

 Database of Rogue Landlords & Letting Agents

The Secretary of State will establish a database of rogue landlords and letting agents. LA’s will be responsible for maintaining the content of the database. Landlords with banning orders will be added to the database in addition to those where the LA’s deem suitable for inclusion.

 Rent Repayment Orders

These are made by the First-tier Tribunal against rogue landlords who have committed the following offences or rented housing in breach of a banning order.

• Breaches of improvement orders and prohibition notices and of licensing requirements under the 2004 Act

• Violent entry under the Criminal Law Act 1977, and

• Unlawful eviction under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977

All orders requires a landlord to repay rent paid by a tenant or to repay a LA housing  benefit or universal credit which has been paid in respect of rent.

Recovering Abandoned Premises in England

A landlord may recover possession of a property where it has been abandoned, without the need for a court order. A landlord may give a tenant notice which brings the tenancy to an end on that day, provided certain conditions are met:

• a certain amount of rent is unpaid (two months if monthly)

• that the landlord has given a series of warning notices

• and that neither the tenant or a named occupier has responded in writing to those warning notices before the date specified in the notices.

Council tax data

LA’s can use council tax registration forms to ask tenants for details of a properties’ tenure and its landlord to help root out criminal landlords