homeFriday 22nd June 2018

Call for councils to claim rent from rogue landlords

Wil Hatchett17/05/2017 - 13:55

| comments Comments (0) |
David Smith speaking at the CIEH
David Smith speaking at the CIEH

A housing expert has urged private housing enforcers to apply for rent repayment orders (RROs) against rogue landlords.

David Smith of Anthony Gold solicitors, policy director of the Residential Landlords Association, told the CIEH housing and health conference that far money could be reclaimed from landlords this way than ‘measly’ fines, using powers now available under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

Under the act ,RROs can be recovered from landlords for all offences under the Housing Act 2004 and for evictions with violence under the Criminal Law Act.  The offences must have been committed after 6 April and the RRO applied for within 12 months. A criminal standard of proof is required if the RRO is applied for separately from a conviction or fixed penalty notice.

For tenants on housing benefit or universal credit, Mr Smith said, first tier tribunals would expected to reclaim the maximum amount of benefit from landlords. This could be a considerable sum. Money recovered is returned to the Treasury but councils can deduct their costs. Tenants can also apply for RROs or joint applications can be made.

He said: ‘In my view, you should be using this instead or prosecution. It can be far more effective against a landlord who is raking in £100,000 a year from housing benefit, rather than recovering a measly fine. Also, you have 12 months rather than six to bring a claim to the tribunal.’

He explained that the new law empowers councils to help tenants to recover RROs and suggest that private housing services should produce guidance and advice for private tenants.

Mr Smith described as ‘ridiculous’ a practical problem with RROs, which may restrict them. The recovering council must tell the tribunal how much money it is seeking, but the Department of Work and Pensions has said that it won’t be able to disclose this information, under data protection law. Tenants would be unlikely to have the information.

He said that, using the new law, councils should seek, for enforcement purpose, tenancy deposit data from the three national schemes. They would be able to request property and landlord addresses, the names of lettings agents and the number of deposits registered. This would be useful in determining the extent of properties owned by rogue landlords.

In October, banning orders for convicted landlords and a national database for rogue landlords are set to come into effect. But Mr Smith said that banning orders would have to be signed off by the new housing minister, which may hold them up. Given the mixed history of national IT projects, the rogue landlord database could take a long time to be operational.

EHN Jobs


Subscribe eNewsletter