Red and Blue Doors

Housing and Planning Act 2016

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 introduced new rules that landlords and letting agents need to be aware of. More info...

The areas that the private rented sector need to focus on includes: Banning Orders, Rent Repayment Orders, a national Database of Rogue Landlords and Letting Agents, mandatory Client Money Protection (CMP) and recovering abandoned properties.

We have lobbied and are continuing to lobby 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.

Fact sheet

MEMBER FACT SHEETS

We have four member exclusive fact sheets that cover the changes affecting letting agents.

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The History

Summer 2015

The then 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. More info...

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

Banning Orders

Since 6 April 2018, local authorities have had the power to issue a Banning Order 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. They also prohibit the 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 and do not have an upper limit for their duration. Those issued with a Banning Order will also be added to the national database of rogue landlords and letting agents.

What did we do?

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 that they are placed on the national Database of Rogue Landlords and Letting Agents.

What did we say?

In February 2017, the Government consulted on what should constitute ‘Banning Order Offences’. We issued a response outlining our position.

Our response to banning order consultation

Rent Repayment Orders

The 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 listed offences.

These measures mean that in effect, income raised from these penalties will be ring-fenced for further enforcement activity in the private rented sector.

What have we called for?

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

David Cox 

Chief Executive
ARLA Propertymark

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 have the ability to 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 to view for local authorities and Government in order to monitor the worst offenders. Following pressure from ARLA Propertymark, in October 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May announced the Government’s intention to make the Database available to view for tenants and prospective tenants, at the time of writing the database is still not publicly accessible.

What are we calling for?

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.

There is a need for joined-up thinking

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.

“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, which means no one will be able to see it and therefore 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.”

David Cox

David Cox 

Chief Executive
ARLA Propertymark

Mandatory 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. More info…

Client Money Protection (CMP) is a scheme that reimburses landlords and tenants should an agent misappropriate their rent, deposit or other client funds. ARLA Propertymark has long campaigned for mandatory CMP, and it is a requirement of our membership. We led the industry-wide campaign for its introduction via the Housing and Planning Act 2016. Read more about our lobbying work on mandatory CMP here…

Recovering Abandoned Property

The Act introduces a new mechanism allowing landlords to legally recover abandoned property without needing to go to court. 

What are we doing and what do we think?

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 a 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.

Timeline for Enforcement

Came into force April 2017

Extension of Rent Repayment Orders to cover illegal eviction, breach of a Banning Order or failure to comply with a Statutory Notice) 

Civil penalties of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution

Came into force April 2018

Banning Orders for the most serious and prolific offenders

Database of Rogue Landlords/Letting Agents convicted of certain offences

Came into force April 2018

Mandatory membership of a Government-approved Client Money Protection scheme

Awaiting commencement date

New rules around Recovering Abandoned Premises