From Buckingham Palace to the slums of Blackpool, the Duke and Duchess crack down on unscrupulous landlords
It appears that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent a day in Blackpool recently to visit some of the most dilapidated homes that this country has ever seen. In doing so, they were given a tour of mould-ridden homes so dangerous that they had to walk on planks to avoid rotten floorboards. These homes were filled with water leaks from the ceilings and dirt and debris everywhere. One of the properties visited by the royals was a place where a young 16 year old girl was sadly held captive, sexually assaulted, tortured and thereafter murdered.
These homes have been bought by private landlords who have not only been letting out seriously inhabitable homes but who have also been letting out their homes to multiple occupants, without licence.
Whilst Blackpool Housing Company has since bought some of these properties in order to now rent them out as safe family homes, the Duke and Duchess were clearly shocked and disheartened that these homes had previously been rented out in this way, particularly to families with young children.
What does the law say?
Whilst all councils are implementing the licensing scheme which imposes an obligation on landlords to obtain a licence if the property is being let out to multiple occupants, there is criticism that some councils have poor or insufficient information on their websites to be able to properly inform landlords of this scheme and its proper requirements.
Under the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018, which came in force on 1 October 2018, there are strict rules about minimum bedroom sizes.
Where a property is an HMO and is without a licence, then the landlord may face a criminal conviction and an unlimited fine.
Health and Safety.
Landlords are responsible for repairs to the exterior and structure of a property including problems with the roof, chimneys, walls, guttering and drains. They must also make sure that the equipment for supplying water, gas and electricity is kept in safe working order. As a tenant, make sure your landlord gives you a gas safety certificate and EPC certificate at the start of your tenancy. In fact, a gas safety check must be done every 12 months.
Your landlord must also install a smoke alarm on each floor of your home and carbon monoxide detectors in any room with a coal fire or wood- burning stove.
It appears that London is leading the way in blacklisting unscrupulous landlords. The Mayor of London has launched a “name and shame” database of rogue landlords which exposes those landlords who have been fined or convicted of a housing offence, including overcrowding properties, failure to carry out improvements or failing to have the relevant safety measures in place.
So far 10 London boroughs, including Brent, Camden, Greenwich and Islington, and the London Fire Brigade, have published their records on the City Hall website in an attempt to help renters indentify lousy landlords.
From April 2018, a national database has been produced to list landlords and letting agents across the country that have been banned from letting or managing property, although this information will only be available to local authorities, not the general public.
New Law: Hot off the press!
In January this year, MPs unanimously voted in favour of passing the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill, which allows tenants to sue landlords over poor housing.
The bill received Royal Assent and comes into force TODAY. We will be preparing a separate blog about this new law but in the meantime here is a link to a useful guide of the new Act: