Government plans could see rouge landlords forced to repay housing benefit
New government plans could see landlords having to repay a years’ worth of housing benefits if they evict tenants illegally or fail to maintain their properties.
In a government discussion paper it says, “an effective enforcement regime is essential to drive up housing standards in theprivate rented sectorand tackle criminal landlords” reports Inside Housing.
The document has arisen after ministers say they are “exploring the scope” for extending ‘rent repayment orders.’
Cash from rent repayment orders is retained by the local authority and used for housing purposes when the rent has been paid via housing benefit.
At the moment rent repayment orders can only be applied where a landlord has failed to obtain a licence for a licensable property. However the government is considering extending the orders to where landlords let out dangerous or substandard accommodation and receive a statutory notice such as an Improvement Notice from the local authority.
Ministers are also considering introducing civil penalties for letting properties that are overcrowded, have poor sanitation, electrical faults or damp. The penalties would be used where there had been a “relatively minor” breach, the document says.
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