Councils empowered to crack down on rogue landlords

4 Jan 18

Councils are to gain tougher powers to use against private sector landlords who let out substandard properties.

Housing minister Alok Sharma said properties in England occupied by five or more people, from two or more households, would need to be licensed by a local authority.

At present, national mandatory licensing applies only to properties of three or more storeys and the changes will extend this to flats and one or two-storey properties. Some 160,000 homes are expected to be affected.

There will also be additional criminal offences – to include burglary and harassment – following convictions for which people could be banned from being landlords.

Sharma said: “Every tenant has a right to a safe, secure and decent home. But far too many are being exploited by unscrupulous landlords who profit from providing overcrowded, squalid and sometimes dangerous homes.

“Enough is enough and so I’m putting these rogue landlords on notice - shape up or ship out of the rental business.”

Under new space requirements an adult’s sleeping room must be of at least 6.51 square metres, and those for two adults at least 10.22 square metres. Rooms for children of 10 and younger must be 4.64 square metres or more.

Licences issued by councils must specify the maximum number of people who may occupy any room.

Meanwhile, communities secretary Sajid Javid has announced measures to end the practice of housebuilders selling new homes as leasehold, which has left occupants facing potentially huge increases in ground rents making their homes unsalable.

He said leasehold sales would be banned for almost all new homes and where they were permitted ground rents would be set at zero.

It would also become easier for leaseholders to buy out their freeholder.

Javid said: “It’s unacceptable for home buyers to be exploited through unnecessary leaseholds, unjustifiable charges and onerous ground rent terms.”

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