Weekly landlord news digest: Issue 43

In our weekly landlord news digest, Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance brings you the latest industry news and important updates in the private rented sector.

This week, we report on the MHCLG’s recent announcement that a new £3.8 billion fund has been granted to help local councils to crackdown on unscrupulous landlords. Also, we explore a recent case involving a Lincolnshire buy to let landlord who was found guilty of operating an unlicensed HMO, and was consequently fined £1,200.

In other news, the government has revealed that the freeze on benefits, which was announced in April 2015, will be brought to an end in 2020. We also discuss the recent debate that the increasing number of landlord regulations may be causing issues for the private rented sector.

Finally, we report a recent story in which a landlord refused to give their tenants access to the thermostat, preventing them from controlling heating in the rental property.


Local councils receive £3.8 billion fund to help crackdown on rogue landlords

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has announced that local councils in England will receive new funding to help tackle unscrupulous landlords. Housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, stated that councils are now permitted to make a bid for a portion of the £3.8 billion fund.

The government acknowledged that although the majority of landlords carry out their duties legitimately and provide quality housing for their tenants, there is still a small minority of landlords who fail to do so. The new funding exists to help identify and reprimand landlords who do not provide their tenants with adequate accommodation.

The measures that can be taken against rogue landlords includes fines and banning orders.

“It is unacceptable that a small minority of unscrupulous landlords appear to be breaking the law and providing homes which fall short of the standards that tenants rightly expect. Everyone deserves to live in a home that is safe and secure, and the funding announced today will help to further strengthen councils’ powers to crack down on criminal landlords and drive up standards in the private rented sector.”

– Robert Jenrick, Housing secretary

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Buy to let landlord fined £1,200 for running unlicensed HMO

A buy to let landlord in Lincolnshire was ordered to pay over £1,200 in fines due to breaching house in multiple occupation (HMO) licensing rules.

Nicholas Moyses was penalised after he was found to be allowing several people to live inside an unlicensed HMO in Spalding. Moyses was found guilty of failing to properly license his property and was fined £750, along with a victim surcharge of £75 and additional costs of £380, totalling £1,205.

Christine Lawton, South Holland District Council portfolio holder, commented: “Results like this are only possible through the hard work of the council’s entire housing team, who regularly monitor properties in the district and are able to take swift and decisive action when it is required.”

“Homes need to provide tenants with a healthy and safe environment to live in, and the licensing is a crucial part of us being able to monitor this and ensure that these necessary standards are met. The legislation exists for a reason and we will not hesitate to take action against anyone who does not comply with it.”

– Christine Lawton, South Holland District Council portfolio holder

Government confirms that benefits freeze will end in 2020

“Our research shows that by investing in housing benefit, so it covers the true cost of rents, government could lift more than 35,000 children out of poverty. Putting families at risk of homelessness cannot be allowed to continue. We can make renting affordable for everyone, but we need to see all parties commit to investing in housing benefit rates, so they cover at least the cheapest third of rents across the country. The time for action is now.”

– Jon Sparkes, Crisis Chief Executive

The government has announced that the freeze on benefit payments, which came into effect in 2016, will be brought to an end in 2020. The freeze was announced in the 2015 budget and was intended to last until the end of the current financial year.

Rather than increasing in line with inflation (to reflect the rising cost of living), the freeze has kept most working-age benefits and tax credits at the same value for more than four years. Working-age benefits such as Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance, as well as other benefits such as housing benefit and child benefit, are now set to rise by inflation in the new financial year.

In response to the announcement, Jon Sparkes, Crisis Chief Executive, commented: “Right now, families on the lowest incomes are facing agonising stress and anxiety because they cannot afford to pay their rent. This is made all the worse when we know it doesn’t have to be this way.”