Govt seeks views on how it can drive out rogue landlords

The Government has called for suggestions on how it can drive out rogue landlords and improve the quality of the private rented sector for tenants.

In October the Government launched a package of measures to ensure tenants get a good deal when they rent a home and committed to undertake a review of property conditions in the sector.

The first stage of this review was a discussion paper, published yesterday, which sought for views from the sector on how it can improve conditions for tenants.

The closing date for respondents is 28 March.

Housing minister Kris Hopkins says: “Tenants have a right to live in homes that are safe. But the reputation of our private rented sector is being tarnished by a tiny minority of poor operators who flout the rules offer substandard accommodation.

“Already we’ve provided over £6.5m to councils to deal with the problem in their area – but I want to see what more we can do to root out rogue landlords, while ensuring good landlords who obey the rule are able to rent out their quality homes free from red tape.”

While the review does not suggest any policy or legal changes, it has asked for information on certain areas of the private rental market.

These include suggestions on how to combat ‘retaliatory eviction’ where landlords remove tenants in response to a request for repairs, as well as situations in which landlords should be required to repay rent for letting out sub-standard or unsafe properties.

It also asks for views on a range of other issues, such as how best to make tenants aware of their right to seek help and advice from their council; increasing tenants’ awareness of what constitutes an unsafe property; and the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, as well as electrical installations.

Separately, those constructing their own homes were yesterday granted an exemption from paying a community infrastructure levy – potentially saving thousands of pounds on the cost of construction.

The levy was first introduced in November 2012 for all developments and is used as a means of funding new infrastructure. It meant that local authorities could charge a certain tariff depending on how big the development is, if they chose to. The levy could vary from council to council.

But yesterday self-builders were given an exemption.

For example, someone building their own 150 square metre home could be forced to pay an extra £15,000 if their council was charging £100 per square metre.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles says: “This change will save self-builders thousands of pounds and help many more in the future.

“By boosting the number of people building their own home we can help increase the number of new houses built each year in this country and support local businesses. There are too many levies and charges on housing. By cutting these, we can help build more homes.”

National Self Build Association chairman Ted Stevens says: “It’s great news that the levy exemption for self and custom builders is now being implemented. We anticipate the exemption will have a significant impact on self-build starts, with 2,000 to 3,000 homes coming off the shelf, and starting on site in the next few months.”

Article courtesy of Mortgage Strategy

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