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RLA urges government to hunt for ‘criminal landlords’

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is calling for more effective action to find the minority of landlords who are criminals.

The Association highlights the fact that when new occupants move into a property, they are obliged to complete a council tax registration form, but nowhere on this form does it ask the tenure of the property or who the landlord is. 

It is therefore urging the Government to allow councils to include details of a property’s tenure and landlord on council tax registration forms for privately rented properties.

The introduction of this measure would make it much more difficult for criminal landlords to be identified, the RLA says.   

“Faced with staff and resource shortages, too many local authorities resort to over-regulating the good landlords who are easy to find. It’s time that we got smarter and ought to have a system which supports the good landlords while bringing the book down on the criminals who should play no part in a modern housing market,” comments Alan Ward, chairman of the RLA.

He says the proposed solution would provide the intelligence that enforcing authorities currently lack and would send a clear no tolerance message to those landlords who ‘prey’ on vulnerable tenants.

The RLA also called for yesterday’s Housing Bill to enable the legal information on the location of deposit money - once secured in one of the three government-approved schemes - to be provided electronically to tenants if they prefer.

“In the 21st century it’s ludicrous that tenants can’t be told by email about where their deposit is being held,” adds Ward. 

There was widespread expectation that yesterday’s Housing Bill – in which the government announced its legislative plans for housing in the coming year – would include further information on the mandatory licensing of landlords alluded to in a speech by David Cameron last week. 

Landlord licensing was not mentioned, although the National Landlords Association has subsequently received clarification from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). 

The DCLG has said that the proposal for a mandatory licensing regime relates to homes of multiple occupation (HMOs) or 'shared housing’ only. 

The proposal is to amend the definition of mandatory licensable HMOs and the DCLG says it intends to consult on the proposals before anything is implemented, with exact timeframes yet to be confirmed.

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