Monday, 26 March 2018

Victims of Rogue Landlords: For You!

6 April 2018. A good day for housing tenants in England.  A landlord or letting agent convicted of certain offences will be vulnerable to a first-tier tribunal order banning them for at least 12 months from letting or engaging in letting agency work. If they break the ban they can be prosecuted (and fined or imprisoned) or stung by the local housing authority for a penalty of up to £30,000. Ouch! If your accommodation is in a building which needs a multiple occupation licence then the banning order will prohibit the landlord from obtaining one or, if they already have a licence, it will be revoked. Without a licence, a landlord cannot serve a notice to kill off an assured shorthold tenancy under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

So what are these offences which could lead to horrible consequences for the landlord or agent? Loadsacrime. They include unlawful eviction and harassment, violence for securing entry, failing to comply with an improvement notice of prohibition order, multiple occupation offences, contravention of an overcrowding notice and fire and gas safety offences.

You can't apply to the tribunal for a banning order yourself. That will be down to the local housing authority. But what you can do is to draw the landlord's attention to what might happen if they don't remedy unlawful action they have taken or comply with the law they have so far ignored. But please don't go over the top with your language or parade outside their home with a sandwich board proclaiming that they are Rachman Incarnate or you might end up in the dock with them.

Now this may interest you even more and here you can take action yourself rather than having to encourage the police or the local authority to do so. If your landlord is convicted of one of a set of offences committed on or after 6 April 2018 you can apply to a first-tier tribunal for a rent repayment order. Under that the landlord can be ordered to repay you the rent you have paid for up to 12 months. But you must make the tribunal application within 12 months of the offence being committed. And what are theses offences which could earn you your money back? They include breaching a banning order (see above) and failing to comply with an improvement order. You will find them fully set out in section 40 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

For pedants, disbelievers and the curious, see sections 13 to 48 and schedules 1 to 3 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, the Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Banning Order Offences) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/216 and the Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Commencement No 8) Regulations 2018 SI/2018/393.

For much, much more on Tenant v Landlord, get Breaking Law.