The Housing and Planning Act was brought into to law by the Government in May 2016 to improve the way housing is managed in England. The Housing and Planning Act will introduce new rules that landlords and letting agents need to be aware of.
The areas that the private rented sector need to focus on includes Banning Orders, Rent Repayment Orders, a database of rogue landlords and letting agents and recovering abandoned properties.
We are lobbying the Government in all of these key areas, influencing the Government so that the new rules are workable and can be enforced so that standards will improve within the Private Rented Sector.
In Summer 2015, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) launched a technical discussion paper with plans to tackle the worst offenders in the lettings sector. These plans later formed the basis for many of the laws that were introduced in the Housing and Planning Act.
ARLA Propertymark Board members had a one-to-one meeting with senior civil servants at DCLG to discuss the proposal and we provided a written response to the technical discussion paper helping influence the legislation.
Read our response to the technical discussion paper
Local authorities will have the power to issue Banning Orders to prevent a person from letting a property, engaging in letting and property management, or doing two or more of those things for a fixed period of time.
The Government’s original proposals were to ban companies and not just the individual when an offence has been committed. This would have meant that businesses and their reputations would have been damaged, or potentially destroyed, due to the actions of a rogue employee.
We didn't think that this was fair to the business and were able to push for the individual agent to face the Banning Order and ensure they are placed on the Database of Rogue Landlords and Letting Agents.
The Government has consulted on which offences should constitute ‘banning order offences’.
Our response to banning order consultation
The Act introduces civil penalties and extends the grounds for Rent Repayment Orders. Under the rules, a local authority or tenant can apply for a Rent Repayment Order against a landlord who has committed one of the listed offences.
The new measures will effectively mean that income raised from these penalties will be ring-fenced for further enforcement activity.
ARLA Propertymark has long called for greater enforcement activity to end poor housing provision. We have made it clear to the Government that it’s essential that prosecuting bodies are given the powers to become revenue generators for local authorities rather than revenue drains to enable enforcement.
“We have long called for greater enforcement activity to end poor housing provision. While we’re pleased that the government have been persuaded by our arguments, the responsibility now falls to local authorities to actively use the tools at their disposal to raise standards.
“Local Authorities will also be able to receive details from deposit protection schemes to build a picture of the rental market in their area. We hope this will reduce the number of local authority licensing schemes which are seen by many as having been brought in to try to map the private rented sector within their locality.”
David Cox, ARLA Propertymark Chief Executive
The Housing and Planning Act has given the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government the power to create a Database of Rogue Landlords and Letting Agents.
Local authorities will be able to place landlords and letting agents who have committed a Banning Order Offence on the database for a minimum of two years.
However, the database will not be publicly accessible and will only be made available to local authorities and government so they can monitor the worst offenders.
We believe that the database should be available to the public to ensure landlords and tenants know if they are using a banned agent. It will also allow agencies to check the database to vet potential employees.
We also believe that access to the list should be granted to industry bodies such as ARLA Propertymark.
Many letting agents are also sales agents and therefore regulated under the Estate Agents Act 1979. Consequently, we believe that being banned under Estate Agents Act 1979 should also constitute a banning order offence under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.
Without combining the lists, there is a very real danger that a banned sales agent could set up as a letting agent or vice versa which will do little to improve the standards or perception of the industry.
The Act introduces a new mechanism allowing landlords to legally recover abandoned property without needing to go to court.
Whilst we recognise that abandonment is not a widespread issue, we have outlined to the Government that when it does occur landlords incur significant costs while fixing the situation.
The costs landlords face when presented with an abandoned property are loss of rent, court costs, cleaning, storage of goods and difficulties with returning deposits. Properties that are unoccupied can also become targets for vandals and are vulnerable to squatters which can cause additional problems for landlord, neighbours and the neighbourhood.
Overall we are happy with the proposed solutions as they will reduce landlords’ costs and time in regaining vacant possession of their property.
When changes to legislation occur our fact sheets are quick to detail what impact it will have on agents and landlords. For the Housing and Planning Act we have four fact sheets relating to the changes that affect letting agents.
Find the fact sheets
We will be keeping this up-to-date as we learn more about the enforcement roll out.
Rent Repayment Orders - came into force on 6 April 2017
New rules around Recovering Abandoned Premises - expected from 1 October 2017
Introduction of a Database of Rogue Landlords and Letting Agents – expected 1 October 2017
Enforcement of Banning Orders – expected 1 October 2017