New powers in housing enforcement

26 March 2018, Tamara Sandoul, Policy Manager

A person holding keys

A raft of new regulations are coming into effect at the beginning of April

These new regulations will finally grant the power to ban rogue landlords and agents from renting property, and will also introduce a rogue landlord database, minimum energy efficiency standards for PRS and new homelessness duties for local authorities

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduced a package of measures to help local authorities crack down on rogue landlords and property agents. One of the measures was a new database for local housing authorities in England to keep track of rogue landlords and property agents, especially those operating outside of their local authority areas. The database will be restricted to users nominated by local authorities and all users will be able to view all entries on the database, including those made by other local housing authorities.

Local housing authorities will be required to enter the details of any person who has received a banning order. They are also strongly encouraged to make entries for a person who has:

  • been convicted of a banning order offence that was committed at a time when the person was a residential landlord or property agent;
  • and/or received two or more financial penalties as an alternative to prosecution for certain housing offences within a period of 12 months committed at a time when the person was a residential landlord or a property agent
Workman checking inside house

"Band E is too low to be an adequate minimum standard in terms of excess cold, and we therefore require further clarity on the whether HHSRS can be used on properties reaching the minimum Band E standard."

Statutory guidance has not yet been published for the rogue landlords database or the new banning orders, but is due to appear here by 6th April. Banning order offences were consulted on last year and the Government published its response earlier this year.

Guidance for landlords and local authorities on Minimum Energy Efficiency has been available since last October. The regulations were supposed to bring the most energy-inefficient private rented sector properties up to a Band E standard. However, we know that energy efficiency and excess cold are not quite the same and have sought to make this point directly to BEIS, the Government Department responsible for these regulations.

The current guidance therefore makes clear that action can be taken using HHSRS on properties that are in Bands F and G and have acquired an exemption from the regulations, if excess cold is identified. However, these regulations are in the process of being amended again and a consultation has recently closed. It sought views on closing the ‘no cost to landlords’ loophole. We are expecting the changes to be made in about a year’s time and have submitted a detailed response. In it, we suggest that Band E is too low to be an adequate minimum standard in terms of excess cold, and therefore require further clarity on the whether HHSRS can be used on properties reaching the minimum Band E standard.

Environmental health professionals working in broader housing management roles will also be aware that the Homelessness Reduction Act is coming into force on 3 April. This Act requires local authorities to intervene at earlier stages in order to prevent homelessness in their local areas. The Government has produced guidance to ensure Local Authorities can prepare for this.

 

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