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industry news


“Landlords who break the rules and are found to be letting a home to a tenant who is not allowed to stay can be fined up to £1,000 the first time and £3,000 subsequently”


December 2014 to 31 January 2016. Phase 2 of the scheme started across England from 1 February 2016.”


Lodgers


More than 90 landlords prosecuted for ‘Right to Rent’ breaches


rolled out nationally a year ago. Brought in under the Immigration Act 2014


A


Right to Rent was introduced across England in February last year as part of Government reforms to build a ‘fairer and more effective’ immigration system. Landlords and their agents are required to check the immigration status of prospective tenants before they allow them to move in. The scheme is due to be extended to Scotland


and Wales in the near future but no clear evidence has so far emerged that it is working as intended. Landlords who break the rules


total of 91 private landlords have been fined almost £30,000 since the Government’s Right to Rent scheme was


and are found to be letting a home to a tenant who is not allowed to stay can be fined up to £1,000 the first time, and £3,000 subsequently. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has also raised the prospect of prison sentences for repeat offenders. Initial figures revealed by Immigration


Minister Robert Goodwill MP in response to written Parliamentary questions from Stuart McDonald MP show limited success. Goodwill said the majority of offences related to lodgers living in England without a Right to Rent in the UK – and confirmed none of the landlords involved had appealed the penalties. Goodwill added: “Phase 1 of the Right to Rent scheme ran in the West Midlands from 1


He explained: “During phase 1 of the scheme, 15 landlords were issued with a civil penalty. Since the start of phase 2 of the scheme, 91 landlords have been issued with a civil penalty. All were first time penalties. 55 related to lodgers in a private household and 51 related to occupiers in rented accommodation. The total amount collected from the scheme up to mid December 2016 is £29,575.” The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is


conducting research into landlords’ experiences of Right to Rent and its impact on the private rented sector. In the world of unintended consequences


it is even possible for British people to be affected by the regulations and denied access to rented properties if they have no passport or other accepted proof of UK residence. It is estimated that upto 12 million Britons do not have a passport. Other people who are now finding it much


more difficult to rent a flat includes refugees who have been accepted in the UK, but they often have to wait many weeks for documents to prove it – and many become homeless because they cannot get either a social or a private tenancy. Uncertainty also lingers over the future


security of the estimated 3 million EU nationals currently living in the UK after Brexit.


Bristol landlord fined for failing to complete safety works


A landlord who failed to comply with an Improvement Notice and carry out essential repairs to his property was ordered to pay fines and costs of more than £6,000 following an investigation by Bristol City Council. Following a complaint to the council’s private


housing department, environmental health officers inspected the property. It was let as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) where up to three tenants shared the bathrooms with the resident landlord Zafar Iqbal. An inspection on the 3 August 2016


found the property to be in a filthy condition and in very poor repair. The conditions were so poor, a formal Improvement Notice was served requiring Iqbal to carry out numerous works in the property to eliminate the hazards


and improve the safety and living conditions. Required works included the installation of a


fire alarm system; provision of hot and cold water and heating; treating the mouse infestation and repairing the leak to the roof. Mr Iqbal failed to complete these works to improve the living conditions within the time allowed by the notice.


Safety


Councillor Paul Smith, Cabinet Member for Homes and Communities, said: “The council will not tolerate landlords failing to meet their legal responsibilities for the conditions and safety of their properties. He added: “This is an issue we take very seriously, and we will continue to take action


where necessary to improve people’s living conditions. We urge landlords to co-operate with our officers to avoid court cases and fines which are much more expensive than undertaking the improvements. The vast majority of landlords do this and working together we can improve housing conditions within the city." This is the second time Iqbal had been


prosecuted for failing to complete works required of him in an Improvement Notice. In August 2015 he was also found guilty and ordered to pay a total of £6,284. The works remain incomplete and Bristol City


Council is considering carrying out the improvements in his default, resulting in the landlord having to repay these costs.


14 | HMM March 2017 | www.housingmmonline.co.uk


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