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Tory MP wants new law to identify criminal landlords

A Tory MP is today introducing a Bill that will make it much easier for authorities to identify criminal landlords.

The measure is being introduced by the Conservative MP for Hornchurch and Upminister, Dame Angela Watkinson. If passed it would require tenants to provide details of their landlord on council tax registration forms.

Under the current law, when new occupants move into a house they are obliged to notify their local authority to establish council tax payments. Nowhere on the form does it ask the tenure of the property or, where it is rented, who the landlord is and what their contact details are.

The Draft Local Government Finance (Tenure Information) Bill would enable councils to request details of a property’s tenure and details of the landlord, if a rented property, on council tax registration forms. Tenants are already legally entitled to know the name of the landlord when signing a new tenancy agreement. Through tenants disclosing this to the local authority, it will make it much more difficult for criminal landlords to avoid being identified. 

Where a tenant is unable to identify their landlord this would provide local authorities with a signal that there may be deliberate evasion and they will be able take appropriate action through identifying the owner of the property through the Land Registry.

Dame Angela says “the draft Bill has already been welcomed by the Citizens Advice Bureau and has cross Party support” and Alan Ward, chair of the Residential Landlords’ Association, says the measure “sends a powerful message to criminal landlords that you can run but you cannot hide.”

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    What an absolute load of nonsense - another MP who has just been elected trying to jump onto an already overburdened bandwagon of screw the private landlord - at some point private landlords will just opt out and the economy will lose the revenue and jobs that being a private landlord brings.

    The local authorities already have the ability to trace the ownership of properties when they send Council Tax Bills and in reality even if they dont know who the owner is, its costs £3.00 to do a land registry search to anyone , I'm sure local authorities could negotiate a cheaper price given the volume they would generate - do we really need to legislate for this and waste even more money?

    How long would a "criminal landlord" be classed as a criminal landlord? Will the slate be wiped clean after a period of time like with real criminals? What is the criteria for being a criminal landlord? Been caught speeding - criminal landlord - missed a council tax payment - criminal landlord - dropped litter - criminal landlord - as I said its a nonsense proposal.

    For the record I have been letting properties for over 30 years never had a criminal anything and never censured by the council for sub standard properties - am still a registered teacher.

  • Jon  Tarrey

    "at some point private landlords will just opt out and the economy will lose the revenue and jobs that being a private landlord brings."

    What a load of tosh! Honestly, private landlords seem to hold themselves up as God-like figures who can do absolutely no wrong.

    "How long would a "criminal landlord" be classed as a criminal landlord? Will the slate be wiped clean after a period of time like with real criminals? What is the criteria for being a criminal landlord? Been caught speeding - criminal landlord - missed a council tax payment - criminal landlord - dropped litter - criminal landlord - as I said its a nonsense proposal."

    You're being deliberately disingenuous, Jeremy. You know full well what a criminal landlord means and you know that a landlord who has been charged for speeding or dropping litter will not suddenly be stripped of their properties. They don't even do that for landlords who have actually committed a crime, for cry sake!

    Your anecdotal evidence is all very well, but you're just one landlord out of however many million. As we read regularly on these very pages, there are plenty of landlords out there providing sub-standard accommodation and treating their tenants like dogs to make a fast buck. Any steps to stop that should be welcomed - by private landlords more than most. Instead, the defensive shield comes up and landlords go on the attack against MPs, pesky tenants and anyone who doesn't fit their narrow little worldview.

  • Fake Agent

    Private landlords have had it too easy for too long, including those that sit in the House of Commons. Ever wonder why so many benefits, sweeteners and tax breaks are given to private landlords? Well, there's your answer.

    The PRS is becoming overcrowded and toxic. It's all about the money, money, money for too many. Many landlords offer a very good service, but many don't. Private landlords can't seem to recognise this, always taking any criticism to heart and seeing it as a personal affront. While this attitude persists, it will be very difficult to flush out rogue landlords completely.

  • Richard White

    @ Jon Tarrey. Do you trust the authorities to wield the label of 'criminal landlord' in the manner it should be applied?

    Every day ordinary householders get bullied by the local authority for leaving a dustbin open or allowing their hedges to grow 2 inches too wide. I am not exaggerating, I have experienced it myself when I was accused of committing an 'enviro crime', whatever that is. This was over a Pyracantha hedge that had grown harmlessly to a (slightly) larger than normal size whilst we were away on holiday. The property in question is always immaculate and the letter from the council was worded in such a manner that I thought initially it was a friend winding me up. I should have know better.

    I am not alone. There are endless examples of this type of ridiculous, sinister, Stalinist intervention by the lunatics that reside in our Town Halls.

    Don't you think you might be placing too much faith in people who have proven time and again that they cannot be trusted to make fair and sensible judgements?

  • Jon  Tarrey

    I'm not saying the authorities are perfect, far from it. I can well imagine them being very petty, bureaucratic and jobsworthy in certain situations. You can see that in every walk of life - a little bit of power goes straight to the head of some of these people.

    I've never experienced any of those ridiculous things that have happened to you, but I can fully believe that they happen.

    However, that doesn't mean I've lost all trust in the powers-that-be. I don't trust this current government whatsoever, but there must be some people on local councils and in positions of power at local authorities who know what they're doing. They can't all be incompetent, can they? Actually, don't answer that.

    What I took umbrage against was Jeremy's persecution complex, the 'poor little me' attitude that too many landlords have. They seem to be way too paranoid about an agenda against them. The PRS needs cleaning up, let's not beat around the bush about that. It's far from perfect, many landlords are far from perfect, and it would help if we didn't stop burying our heads in the sand about that fact.

  • Richard White

    "However, that doesn't mean I've lost all trust in the powers-that-be." I think that places you in an army of one, Jon.

    It's a difficult one and as so often I the case, the way forwards looks near impossible to even see let alone execute.

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