Four-year ban for London rogue landlord
The government estimates that there are 10,500 rogue landlords currently operating in England. In recognition of this serious problem within the private rented sector, the Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduced new powers for local authorities to crack down on the worst rogue landlords who repeatedly fail to comply with regulations under the Housing Act 2004 and other legislation governing the letting of residential property.
New legislation in action
On 8 November this year, Camden Council served a London’s first ‘rogue landlord banning order’ against a man who had repeatedly put his tenants’ lives at risk through a catalogue of unresolved safety failings at various London properties. Cesar De Sousa Melo was banned from letting any housing in England for four years, as well as from engaging in any letting agency or property management work.
Earlier this year, what is believed to be the first banning order ever issued was served against Telford-based landlord David Beattie, who was subsequently banned for five years.
What is a rogue landlord banning order?
Banning orders are relatively new, having only entered into law on 6 April 2018. They prohibit landlords who have been convicted of a banning order offence from letting residential property for a specified number of years (it must be at least one), as well as from engaging in other types of work within the private rented sector. Breaching the order can result in up to 51 weeks’ imprisonment and a fine of £30,000.
There are 41 offences that have the potential to lead to a banning order, which are listed in The Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Banning Order Offences) Regulations 2018. While most of these specifically relate to property rental (for example, failing to license a house in multiple occupation – or HMO – as stipulated by the Housing Act 2004), some do cover offences not directly linked with property regulations, such as fraud or sexual assault. Once a banning order has been issued, the local authority must also enter the banned landlord’s name into the national database of rogue landlords and agents (a further measure introduced in the Housing and Planning Act 2016).
Who can apply for a rogue landlord banning order?
Once a landlord has been convicted of a banning order offence, the local authority must make an application to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber). It is important to note that only a local authority may make the decision to apply, i.e. tenants cannot apply on their own behalf.
Taking action against a rogue landlord
While it is true that you do not have the power to apply for a banning order against your landlord, there are a range of actions that you as a tenant can take if you believe they are failing to ensure the rental property is fit for human habitation. For example, if you cannot resolve your issue directly with the landlord, you could make a complaint to your local council or report them to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for breaches of health and safety regulations.
In more serious situations, it may be that your issue has to be resolved in court – in which case it is vital to take sound legal advice. An expert property solicitor will not only thoroughly explain your rights and review your situation to ensure that you have a sound case, but they will also be there through every step of the court process.