A senior member of parliament is today introducing a bill that will make it much easier for authorities to identify criminal landlords.
The measure being introduced to parliament by the Conservative MP for Hornchurch and Upminister, Dame Angela Watkinson, would require tenants to provide details of their landlord on council tax registration forms.
Under the current law, when new occupants move into a house they are obliged to notify their local authority to establish council tax payments. Nowhere on the form does it ask the tenure of the property or, where it is rented, who the landlord is and what their contact details are.
The Draft Local Government Finance (Tenure Information) bill would enable councils to request details of a property’s tenure and details of the landlord, if a rented property, on council tax registration forms. Tenants are already legally entitled to know the name of the landlord when signing a new tenancy agreement. Through tenants disclosing this to the local authority, it will make it much more difficult for criminal landlords to avoid being identified.
Where a tenant is unable to identify their landlord, it would provide local authorities with a signal that there may be deliberate evasion and they will be able to take appropriate action through identifying the owner of the property through the Land Registry.
This was a key proposal made by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) in its manifesto for the private rented sector and it is calling on the government and MPs to support this measure.
Commenting, Dame Angela Watkinson MP said that “the draft bill has already been welcomed by the Citizens Advice Bureau and has cross party support.”
Responding, Alan Ward, chairman of the RLA said: “The RLA welcomes and strongly supports Dame Angela’s bill. This bill sends a powerful message to criminal landlords that you can run but you cannot hide.
“For too long, a minority of landlords, operating under the radar, have been able to cause misery for their tenants and have been left unchecked by local authorities whose resources are too stretched.
“It will be more effective than a landlord register, or licensing, in identifying rented properties.”
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