15th March 2019
Since April 2018, it has been possible to be banned from being a landlord. Not unlike facing a 12 month ban from driving if you break the law, as a landlord, you could now be stopped from letting out or managing properties for being found guilty of housing offences. It’s a pretty radical, although arguably necessary move, brought into play to crack down on rouge landlords and agents. So what does it mean, exactly, and how could it affect you?
Reasons for banning
This rule has come in as an attempt to crack down on not only rogue landlords, but also rogue agents. It exists to protect tenants from being scammed, being put in danger, and being forced to live in conditions which could affect their health and wellbeing.
There are now 170 pieces of legislation that landlords and agents have to comply with. And every one of those legislations fall under housing offences if you are found to be non-compliant. Of course, it’s virtually impossible for a landlord to be able to list all 170 pieces of legislation, but this just highlights the importance of keeping as up to date as you can with relevant laws and changes in the industry.
If you fall foul of having up to date gas certificates in a property, have an unlicensed HMO, or have failed to do immigration checks, all of those things, amongst others, are criminal offences, and could get you banned for a minimum of 12 months, or in some extreme cases lead to imprisonment. If you are found to have put someone’s life in danger by cutting corners, or by not complying with legislation, that could lead to a lifetime ban and imprisonment.
The Rogue Landlord Database
Those landlords who are found guilty of an offence are now entered onto a database for either the duration of their ban, or at least two years where the entry was made under the authority’s discretionary powers.
Unfortunately, at the present time, the contents of the database are only accessible to local authorities and deposit schemes, and cannot be accessed by members of the public.
The only exception to this at the moment is London, where the Mayor of London and the London Assembly have set up a separate database of landlords who have been prosecuted or fined by London Boroughs for housing related offences, and this can be viewed by the general public. As it stands, there is no plan to roll out anything similar in the rest of the UK.
However, on the advice of Government authorities, local housing authorities are encouraged to allow tenants to request information about specific landlords if they suspect they might be on the rogue landlord database.
Who can apply a banning order?
Banning orders can be applied for by any local housing authority, and the rules state that the ban must be for a minimum of 12 months. It is up to that local authority to recommend the length of time a landlord or agent should be banned for, according to the severity of the offence.
If the offender has a history of failure to comply with regulations, these can also be taken into account when that decision is made.
What happens to tenants if a landlord is banned?
A tenancy cannot be invalidated if a landlord is banned. In some cases, the local housing authority responsible for the ban may take ownership of the tenancy. In any case, the occupier of the property will not lose their rights as a tenant.
Can a landlord appeal against a ban?
It is within a landlords’ right to appeal if they believe they have been banned unfairly. The appeal has to be submitted within 28 days of notice of intention of the banning order.