The new provisions relating to banning orders and the rogue landlord database are expected to come into force on 1 October 2017. These allow steps to be taken against a person who has been convicted of a “banning order offence”. This was one of the new provisions introduced by the Housing and Planning Act 2016. You can read more about banning orders and other provisions here.
What constitutes a banning order offence was not specified in the Act, instead this has been left to the Secretary of State to specify by regulation. The Government has released a consultation on the proposed offences which would constitute a banning order offence. You can read the consultation here.
The government have proposed a range of offences which would include the following:
Relevant Housing offences:
This is likely to include a range of offences including illegal eviction and a range of offences under the Housing Act 2004.
This will include offences committed under the Immigration Act 2014 in relation to Right to Rent. You can read more about that here.
Serious criminal offences:
This is likely to include those convicted of fraud; production, possession or supply of drugs; and specified violent or sexual offences.
Other criminal offences:
This class of offences will include offences committed against, or in conjunction with, any person who was residing at the property owned by the offender or other associated persons.
Consequences of a Banning Order
If a local authority are successful in gaining a banning order, the Landlord/Letting Agent involved will be highly restricted in their ability to operate in the sector. Under S.14(1) of the Housing and Planning Act 2016: a banning order can prevent a person from;
1. Letting a house in England;
2. Engaging in English letting agency work;
3. Engaging in English property agency work; or
4. Doing two or more of those things
In effect therefore a banning order can, if all of its provisions are used, entirely prevent a person or organization from being a landlord or letting agent at all.
The banning order specifies how long a ban is in place for however each ban will have a minimum duration of 12 months. If a landlord is unable to immediately terminate a tenancy or a letting agent requires time to wind down the business exceptions can be made for a period of time to permit this. Alternatively, there is a possibility that the Local Authority will make a management order permitting them to have control and management of the properties concerned.
A banning order can only be made by the local authority making application to the First Tier Tribunal. Therefore a landlord can challenge it as part of the procedure. The banning order may be revoked or varied if the criminal offence has been spent or overturned on appeal. It is important to note however it is a criminal offence to breach a banning order and this is punishable by means of a fine, imprisonment, or both.
Rogue Landlord Database
There will also be a central database created by the Secretary of State, to include rogue Landlords and Letting Agents who have been found guilty of an offence. It will be down to the Local Authority to gather and input the names onto the database and manage it. If a banning order has been made, the details must be entered onto the database and remain there for the duration of the banning order. After the banning order has been completed, the details of the landlord or letting agent must then be removed from the database.
It is intended that all local authorities will have access to the entire rogue landlord database, to allow them to gain information regarding additional properties owned or managed by landlords or letting agents who are currently on the database. There is no mechanism for tenants or other interested parties to see the database at all other than in an anonymized form for research purposes.