ARLA’s call for more enforcement is backed by MPs
Rogue landlords who break the law by exploiting their tenants should have their properties confiscated, a committee of MPs has said.
Members of the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) committee said vulnerable tenants need greater protection against revenge evictions, unfair rent increases and harassment.
The HCLG committee said local authorities should be given powers to confiscate properties from the worst landlords, or those who consistently exploit vulnerable renters.
ARLA Propertymark chief executive David Cox told MPs that the ‘piecemeal approach’ taken by successive governments to regulate the industry was the wrong way to tackle problems within the lettings sector
He also said that agents have struggled to keep up with all the changing laws, and he has called for more enforcement of existing laws, a simplification of the rules, and greater tenant empowerment.
Clive Betts, chair of the HCLG committee, said: “The imbalance in power in the private rented sector means vulnerable tenants often lack protection from unscrupulous landlords, who can threaten them with retaliatory rent rises and eviction if they complain about unacceptable conditions in their homes.
“Local authorities need the power to levy more substantial fines against landlords, and in the case of the most serious offenders, ultimately be able to confiscate their properties.”
Although successive governments have already toughened the laws on renting – with civil penalties of up to £30,000 for those who flout the rules – the committee said local authorities did not have enough resources to enforce the regulations.
In its second report, released last week, the committee also recommended setting up a specialist housing court, which ‘would provide a more accessible route to redress for tenants’ and says The Law Commission should undertake a review of private rented sector legislation.
The report concludes that the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) should be replaced with a more straightforward set of quality standards.
Its findings are now being analysed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government before they decide whether to act on the recommendations.
The inquiry focused on the 800,000 private rented homes that have at least one Category One hazard (such as excess cold, mould or faulty wiring); the 44 per cent of tenants who said a fear of retaliatory eviction would stop them complaining to their landlord; and the 200,000 tenants who reported having been abused or harassed by a landlord.