Rogue Landlords and Anti-Social Behaviour
The term ‘rogue landlords’ is usually used to describe those landlords who rent out substandard properties, which are often dilapidated, overcrowded, squalid or dangerous. Local authorities have been granted more powers under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 to not only deal with such landlords but also their letting agents by being able to:
- Apply for a banning order to prevent a particular landlord/letting agent from continuing to operate where they have committed certain housing offences and so removing them from the sector;
- Create a national database of rogue landlords/letting agents as a result of the (then) Prime Minister David Cameron announcing a new licensing scheme to crack down on unscrupulous landlords. We now have a ‘rogue landlord’ database which lists half of all landlord prosecution under the Housing Act 2004 between 2006 and 2014;
- Allow tenants or local authorities to apply for a Rent Repayment Order where a landlord has committed certain offences (for example continuing to operate while subject to a banning order or ignoring an improvement notice). If successful the tenant (or the authority if the tenant was receiving universal credit) may be repaid up to a maximum of 12 months’ rent;
- Issue fines as well as commence prosecutions.
We also have the London Mayor’s Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker.
Other enforcement measures concern anti-social behavior and councils have the following powers:
- ASB Co-ordinators: They can make an application to the Court for an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) and getting the tenant to sign up to an Acceptable Behaviour Contract (which has all I’ve ever been offered and in only one situation);
- Envirocrime Units: These units work in tandem with the police dealing with issues such as fly-tipping, graffitti, dog fouling and abandoned cars;
- Environmental Health Officers: Under s80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (summary proceedings for statutory nuisance) EHO’s will take ‘all reasonable’ steps to assess whether noise constitutes a statutory nuisance. If it does (and is likely to reoccur) a noise abatement notice can be served and if it is ignored then the offenders can face court action as well as the confiscation of the equipment if that is what is causing the problem;
- Premise Closure Orders: These can be requested by the police and result in the courts being able to temporarily close any premises (and common areas) associated with serious and ongoing ASB and/or nuisance.
OUR FIRST ROGUE LANDLORD AND ANT-SOCIAL TENANT NIGHTMARE
It is difficult enough for decent private sector landlords to remove problem tenants, but our first major nightmare was in place long before we took over the building, and was a toxic relationship between a rogue landlord and an alcholic tenant.
We believed that the tenant had been picked up off the street (which was strange in itself) but the tenancy was shrouded in secrecy despite my trying to find out exactly what was going on. So, in the early days of management, we sent a number of e-mails and letters to the landlord because myself and my partner were fed up with having to deal with the drunken down and outs that we kept finding in heaps in the garden, on the stairs and in some cases, outside residents front doors. We also had the added bonus of being subjected to verbal and physical abuse and even had a dog let loose on us! The flat itself was also in a terrible state of disrepair but despite our requests to evict the tenant, and repair the flat, it took a long time before he finally came to see us. When he did, he requested witness statements about his tenant to support the e-mails and letters we had already sent which was a perfectly reasonable request and one which we complied with. Still he also went on to complain that he couldn’t see any work being done for the service charges he had paid, which was beyond ludicrous because he hadn’t paid any!
More on this nightmare can be read here.