Government cracks down on rogue landlords
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Wednesday 16 October 2013
A crackdown on rogue private landlords will be announced by the Government today to root out “cowboy operators” who rip off or harass their tenants.
All letting and property management agents will soon be forced to join a redress scheme to ensure tenants can complain about hidden fees and poor service and can receive compensation when a complaint is upheld. At present, only 3,000 agents, some 40 per cent of the industry, have joined one of these schemes.
The Government will issue a code of practice setting standards for managing private rented property, which is likely to be given legal force later. A new charter for the nine million private tenants in England will help them take action if they are the victim of hidden charges or sub-standard accommodation. Ministers will consider forcing landlords to repay rent when a house or flat is found to have serious hazards. Councils could recoup housing-benefit payments for such properties.
A model agreement for long-term tenancies of three years or more will give families more security and local authorities will be urged to protect private tenants from illegal eviction.
Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, said: “The private rented market is a vital asset to this country. It’s an important option for the millions of people who want a bit more flexibility, or to simply save up for a deposit so they can buy a place of their own.
“This Government is on the side of hard-working people and the last thing we want to do is hurt tenants and kill investment by increasing costs and strangling the sector with red tape. But tenants deserve better value for money and dodgy landlords should be under no illusion they can provide a shoddy service with impunity.”
Mr Pickles said his reforms would increase the quality and choice of rented accommodation and “sharpen the tools available to tenants and councils so we can root out the cowboys and rogue operators in the sector”. He added: “These measures will also give tenants the know-how to demand longer-term tenancies that cut costs and meet their needs – and when things do go wrong, the confidence to take action without fear of eviction or harassment.”
Shelter, the housing charity, has called for an end to letting fees amid fears that they are pushing people into debt. Its survey of 58 agencies this summer found that all charged renters fees to set up a tenancy.
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 4 Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Rob Lowe hits out at White House decision not to meet Israeli leader
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
Winston Churchill: From accusations of anti-Semitism to the blunt refusal that led to the deaths of millions
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...