Housing and Planning Act 2016

In May 2016, the Government brought The Housing and Planning Act into law introducing new rules for landlords and letting agents. The aim is to improve how housing is managed in England.

In 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 introduced in the Housing and Planning Act. More info...

ARLA Propertymark Board members met one-to-one with senior civil servants at DCLG to discuss the proposal and we responded to the technical discussion paper. We continue to lobby Government and help influence the legislation to ensure that that the rules are workable and can be enforced. This will ultimately improve standards within the private rented sector.

Our response

Banning Orders

On 6 April 2018, local authorities were granted the power to issue a Banning Order to prevent someone from letting a property, engaging in letting and property management or carrying out two or more of those activities for a fixed timeframe. They also prohibit that person from holding a mandatory HMO licence or a licence under a Selective or Additional licensing scheme.

Banning Orders last for a minimum of 12 months with no upper limit and those subject to one will be added to the Database of Rogue Landlords and Letting Agents.

Our involvement

The Government initially proposed to ban companies—not just the individual who committed the offence. This meant that businesses and their reputations could potentially be destroyed due to the actions of a rogue employee. We argued that this was unfair to businesses and pushed for the individual agent to face the Banning Order whilst ensuring that they are added to the Database of Rogue Landlords and Letting Agents.

In February 2017, the Government consulted on what should constitute an offence through their Consultation on the Proposed Banning Order Offences under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

Our response

Rent Repayment Orders

The Housing and Planning Act introduced civil penalties and extended 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 offences listed within the Act.

Income raised from these penalties will be ring-fenced for further enforcement activity in the private rented sector. We made the point clear to the Government that prosecuting bodies must be given powers to become revenue generators for local authorities rather than revenue drains to enable enforcement.

David Cox

David Cox
Former ARLA Propertymark Chief Executive

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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.

Database of Rogue Landlords and Letting Agents

The Housing and Planning Act gave the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government the power to create a national Database of Rogue Landlords and Letting Agents—the database was introduced in April 2018. Local authorities can place landlords and letting agents who have committed a Banning Order offence (or received two or more civil penalties as an alternative to prosecution) on the database for a minimum of two years.

However, the database is not currently publicly accessible and is only available for local authorities and Government to monitor the worst offenders. Following our pressure, in October 2018 former Prime Minister Theresa May announced the Government’s intention to make the database available to view for tenants and prospective tenants. As of January 2020, the database is still not publicly accessible. More info...

What are we calling for?

We want the database to be publicly available, so landlords and tenants can find out if they are using a banned agent. It will also allow agencies to vet potential employees.

Many letting agents also work as sales agents and are therefore regulated under the Estate Agents Act 1979. We believe that a ban under the Estate Agents Act 1979 should constitute a Banning Order offence under the Housing and Planning Act 2016. Without this joined-up thinking to combine the lists, there is a 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.

Timothy Douglas

Timothy Douglas
Propertymark Policy and Campaigns Manager

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When this legislation was first announced, we were wildly supportive—anything which will help eradicate bad letting agents and landlords has our full support. However, the outcome is disappointing. The database won’t be public and letting agents and landlords who are on the list can continue operating with impunity.

This appears to be a pointless exercise; if the list were made public—like the equivalent for estate agents—rogue agents and landlords would leave the market for good.

Recovering Abandoned Property

The Housing and Planning Act introduced a mechanism to allow landlords to legally recover abandoned property without needing to go to court. Whilst we recognise that abandonment is not a widespread issue, we outlined to Government that landlords incur significant costs when it does occur. 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.

Unoccupied properties can become targets for vandals and are vulnerable to squatters causing additional problems for landlords, and the neighbourhood in general. Overall, we are happy with the proposed solutions as they will reduce landlords’ costs and time in regaining vacant possession of their property.

Mandatory Client Money Protection (CMP)

Under the Housing and Planning Act, the Secretary of State was given the power to bring forward secondary legislation to introduce mandatory membership of a Government-approved Client Money Protection scheme. This came into force with The Client Money Protection Schemes for Property Agents (Requirement to Belong to a Scheme etc.) Regulations 2018. We long campaigned for mandatory CMP and led the industry-wide campaign for its introduction. More info…

 

MORE INFO

Housing and Planning Act 2016

FACT SHEETS

Download our four member-only Housing & Planning Act fact sheets covering the changes: