Govt. report calls for convicted landlords to return rents to councils and tenants
A report published today not only calls for tighter regulation of letting agents and a call of action to fees transparency, but also for local authorities and tenants to be given the ability to recoup rents when a landlord has been convicted of letting sub-standard property.
The Committee of MPs have raised concerns about the physical standard of private rented property and therefore call for local authorities to be given the ability to recoup housing benefit payments when a landlord has been convicted of letting property below legal standards. Similarly, the report calls for tenants being able to reclaim rent paid from their own resources if their landlord is convicted.
Of course Landlord Referencing Services welcome a crack down on rogue landlords who have been convicted of letting out sub-standard accommodation to private renting tenants. However, although rogue landlords and rogue agents are constantly being highlighted in the mainstream media, it is a widely accepted fact that most people who rent privately have responsible landlords and rental agencies.
Last year DWP statistics revealed that Housing Benefit claimant error was at the highest it had ever been – and the latest stats reveal that the monetary value of fraud over-payments in the preliminary 2012/13 estimates are the same as those in the 2011/12 and 2010/11 estimates; £1.2bn.
Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said :
“It is unacceptable that taxpayers’ money is being used to pay housing benefit to landlords for sub-standard properties. Where this occurs and the landlord is convicted, local authorities should be able to get that money back.
“Councils should be given greater flexibility to develop approaches to licensing, accreditation, and enforcement that meet the needs of their areas. There should be heavy penalties for non-compliance.”
IS IT FAIR that a tenant can fail to pay the rent and damage a property and a landlord can only take this as a civil offence, but if a landlord throws the tenant out it is an illegal eviction?
IS IT FAIR that we have an independent civil contract between two parties yet one party is supported by the criminal justice system and the other by the civil courts?
IS IT FAIR that one side is able to claim legal aid paid for by the tax payer and the other forced to pay out of their own pocket even if the fault lies solely with the tenant?
Landlord Referencing Services DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THIS IS FAIR OR EQUAL, and if you follow the OFT’s principle guideline – ‘A contract between two parties should be fair and equal in balance’ – then you will also agree that this is anything but equal.
This will also be highlighted in a BBC programme tonight – Meet the landlords – which reveals that UK landlords are owed £282 million in lost rent and property damage.
Coupled with the extortionate amount of Tenant Alerts that LRS send out, as well as Universal Credit pilot areas already showing arrears increases, our community are experiencing a significant increase in tenant alerts regarding LHA claimants; therefore we call on the Government to address the real issues that are affecting good landlords and letting agents; e.g. MILLIONS OF POUNDS THAT ARE BEING STOLEN, UNCHALLENGED FROM THE UK TAXPAYER, VIA HOUSING BENEFIT PAYMENTS NOT BEING PASSED ONTO THE LANDLORD.
The Communities and Local Government Committee report also includes these proposals :
- Bringing regulation for letting agents up to the level of that for estate agents.
- Action to crack down on hidden and unreasonable fees and charges imposed by letting agents.
- All property listings and advertisements to list in full the fees a tenant would have to pay.
- New rules to ensure the safe treatment of landlords’ and tenants’ money.
- Barriers for longer tenancies to be removed.
- In return for offering longer tenancies landlords should be able to evict tenants much more quickly when they fail to pay their rent.
- Legislation covering the PRS to be consolidated and made easier to understand.
- A publicity campaign to promote awareness of tenants’ and landlords’ rights and responsibilities.
- Government should work with groups representing tenants, landlords and agents to bring forward a standard, plain language tenancy agreement on which all agreements should be based.*
*As more and more landlords and letting agents join landlordreferencing.co.uk on a daily basis, we constantly hear the same statement; “It should be mandatory to join your service” and “It should be Government Legislation that all landlords join your service!”
Now, considering Landlord Referencing Services has the largest database of rogue tenants in the UK (to-date) surely it would make sense to work alongside the government, wouldn’t it?
Not only would this uncover every rogue tenant in the UK but would also support the many millions of good tenants out there in finding a safe and comfortable neighbourhood to live in.
The report’s other recommendations include calling on the Government:
- To end the vicious circle where, in some areas, over-inflated levels of housing benefit drive up rents, in turn increasing the housing benefit bill still further [paragraph 125].
- To promote closer working between HMRC and local authorities, to tackle evasion of capital gains and income tax [paragraph 131].
- To revisit the Committee’s report on the Financing of New Housing Supply, and set out proposals to implement the recommendations it initially rejected, with the aim of increasing supply across all tenures of housing [paragraph 150].
Are you a private renting landlord, letting agent or tenant? If so, we would love to hear from you regarding this latest report.
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