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Summary of responses for tobacco consultation

Monday 13 November 2017

Back in May, ARLA Propertymark responded to the Government's consultation on the illicit trading and smuggling of tobacco products, in a bid to crack down on tobacco duty evasion.

The consultation sought views on landlord responsibilities, and questioned what could be reasonably expected of landlords and landowners in order to prevent the use of rented properties in tobacco (or other excise duty) fraud.

Following the inquiry, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have now published a summary of responses, and set out the next steps.

Whilst the general consensus from the letting sector was against imposing a statutory duty of care on landlords, HMRC will be taking forward further work on legislative and non-legislative options to strengthen the use of sanctions in light of the consultation feedback – although there is no particular reference to landlords or letting agents at this point.

ARLA Propertymark raised the issue that imposed sanctions would result in an increased financial and logistical burden for landlords, not to mention it would be impractical as tobacco duty evasion is a criminal offence and therefore is a matter for HMRC and the police to deal with. We proposed that if a landlord or letting agent suspect that illicit activity is taking place at a private rented property, then they should report the matter to the police immediately.

The government have acknowledged the issues raised by us and the impact it would have on landlords and landowners, and whether their proposed measures are proportionate. HMRC plan to review how they work with representative bodies to address the issue of fraud, and are looking to explore how current contracts to prevent illegal activities could be used as a basis to take action against persistent offenders.