A committee of MP’s have decided that landlords should have their properties confiscated if they exploit their tenants.
The Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) committee created a cross party report into Britain’s private rental sector. The committee concluded that there needs to be greater protection of helpless tenants.
Rouge landlords often place harsh restrictions upon their tenants including retaliatory evictions, as the report found that 44% of tenants said a fear of eviction had stopped them from making a complaint to their landlord about repairs and maintenance. Also, around 200,000 tenants said they had been abused or harassed by their landlord and has suffered from unfair surges in rent prices.
The HCLG committee inquiry findings suggested that up to 25 people could be found living in three-bedroom houses. Additionally, 800,000 private rental homes suffer from excessively cold conditions, mould or faulty wiring, showing a lack of basic health and safety concerns. Landlords were also found to be charging tenants up to £500 for a bed in a room with four other bunk beds.
The committee believes that local authorities should be given powers to confiscate properties from rogue landlords especially those who were exploiting vulnerable tenants.
Chair of the HCLG Committee, Clive Betts stated:
"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."
However, the plans have been met with mixed opinion as one campaign group has stated that the committee recommendations should have gone further as the Director of Generation Rent, Dan Wilson Craw said:
"The law is supposed to protect tenants from these criminals but many won't complain about squalid conditions out of fear that the landlord will retaliate with a rent rise or eviction.
"Councils are in a position to dispel such fears, but too many are failing to take meaningful enforcement action in response to complaints. They must do more to assure private renters whose side they are on."
Previous governments have tightened the laws on renting as landlords currently face civil penalties of up to £30,000 and those who have broken the law can be banned on taking on future tenants.
However, the committee believes local authorities had insufficient resources to enforce the regulations. But the MPs said it was striking that six out of 10 councils had not prosecuted a single landlord in 2016.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) agreed with this as there are already over 140 Acts of Parliament and 400 regulations relating to the rental sector.
"The problem is that over-stretched councils simply do not have the resources to properly use such powers to protect tenants from the minority of landlords who are criminals and have no place in the sector," said Alan Ward, chair of the RLA.
Manjinder Kaur Atwal is a Housing Director at Duncan Lewis Solicitors and can advise on disrepair matters and all other housing issues. For expert housing advice, contact Manjinder on 020 3114 1269 or email her at email@example.com.
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