housing & housing services
local government
2

5th Annual Tackling Rogue Landlords Forum

housing & housing services

local government

08:45 - 16:20

Thursday 3 December 2020

Central London, Central London

Coronavirus update: Inside Government has now postponed all its planned conferences, forums and training courses until June. We are in the process of scheduling new dates and will be in touch with all booked delegates. The health and wellbeing of our delegates, contributors and staff is at the forefront of our concern and we appreciate your support in taking this step and your patience in awaiting new dates. Please get in touch if you need any further information, at enquiries@insidegovernment.co.uk

 

This Forum provides participants with the opportunity to examine successful methods of tackling rogue landlords and improve housing standards across the private rented sector. Attendees will be provided with a legislative update from the Ministry of Housing, Community and Local Government on the powers, measures and grants available to local authorities to tackle rogue landlords, as well as gaining an insight in to how to effectively engage with tenants to improve housing standards. In addition, best practice practitioners will share guidance on utilizing new Banning Order powers, harnessing cross-council collaboration and building successful selective licensing and accreditation schemes. Other keynote speakers include Shelter, Greater London Authority and National Landlords Association

The day is split in to 5 sections – ‘Government Update’ ‘Enforcing the Law’ ‘Working with Tenants’ ‘Working with Landlords’ and ‘Innovating Approach.’

Audience

This Forum is specifically designed for the Housing and Voluntary sector. Typical job titles will include:

  • Directors of Housing and Environment
  • Enforcement and Planning Officers
  • Heads of Housing Services
  • Directors of Regulation and Enforcement
  • Neighbourhood Planning Officers
  • Heads of Planning and Development
  • Heads of Service
  • Community Protection Manager
  • Compliance Manager
  • Directors of Public Health
  • Environmental and Health Officers
  • Service Managers
  • Heads of Private Sector Housing
  • Directors of Safeguarding
  • Councillors

This Forum is also open to the Private Sectors to encourage networking and debate.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Angelica Datta, Head of Private Rented Sector Enforcement, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
  • Rebecca Bicocchi, Senior Project Officer in the Private Rented Sector Team, Greater London Authority
  • Gavin Dick, Local Authority Policy Officer, National Landlords Association
  • Ruth Ehrlich, Policy Officer, Shelter
View the agenda and additional speakers

08:45

Registration, Refreshments and Networking


09:30

Chair's Welcome Address

Professor Alexander Marsh, Professor of Public Policy, University of Bristol (CONFIRMED)

Co-Author of ‘The private rented sector in the UK: An overview of the policy and regulatory framework’


Part 1: Government Update


09:40

Morning Keynote: Outlining The Next Steps in Tackling Rogue Landlords

  • Delivering a fairer and more effective rental market:
    • The Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act 2018 and the Tenancy Fees Act 2019
    • The Housing and Planning Act 2016
    • Renter’s Reform Bill

Angelica Datta, Head of Private Rented Sector Enforcement, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (CONFIRMED)


Part 2: Enforcing the Law


10:00

Special Keynote: Empowering Local Authorities to Identify Rogue Landlords Across London

  • Outlining the Mayor’s Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker including public information and private information available to local authorities and London Fire Brigade only, and the reporting tool
  • Highlighting the ways the database can be used to empower local authorities, for example by identifying rogue landlords that operate across boroughs and promoting collaboration between councils
  • Sharing lessons to be considered as local authorities outside of London begin to use the nation-wide government Rogue Landlord Database
  • Analysing next steps for tackling rogue landlords across London, including plans for use of funding allocated by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Rebecca Bicocchi, Senior Project Officer in the Private Rented Sector Team, Greater London Authority (CONFIRMED)


10:20

Case Study: Successfully Utilising London’s First Banning Order Against a Rogue Landlord

  • Outlining the process by which Camden Council obtained a four-year banning order against a landlord for breaches of the Housing Act 2014
  • Demonstrating how the Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker and IBD database can be used to identify individuals and gain relevant evidence – forecasting how the nationwide database can be similarly used
  • Analysing the timelines for gaining an entry warrant, conducting inspections, processing the tribunal and restoring the flat to working order
  • Sharing best practice and lessons learnt from the process, including working collaboratively with other councils and bodies to ensure the individual sticks to his sentence of not operating in England for four years
  • Highlighting the next phase in enforcement for Camden Council, including hiring a data scientist from the GLA and working with neighbouring councils and the HMRC to process 6-7 more banning orders

Darren Wilsher, Private Sector Housing Manager, Camden Council (CONFIRMED)


10:40

Questions and Answers Session


11:00

Networking and Refreshments


11:20

Case Study: Using Large-Scale Property Licensing to Successfully Regulate Standards in the Private Rented Sector

  • Outlining the role that property licensing plays as part of Waltham Forest’s wider housing strategy and the delivery of key local priorities
  • Sharing how the case was successfully made for large-scale property licensing in Waltham Forest
  • Highlighting how the regulatory framework provided by property licensing drives up property standards and management in the private rented sector
  • Examining the successes of the scheme so far, including 100 successful prosecutions against private landlords, 150 financial penalties and more than 50 Interim Management Orders

Councillor Louise Mitchell, Housing Portfolio Lead and David Beach, Director of Regulatory Services, Waltham Forest Council (CONFIRMED)


Part 3: Working with Tenants


11:40

Special Keynote: Proactively Working with Tenants to Tackle Rogue Landlords: A Voluntary Sector Perspective

  • Outlining the reasons why renters often don’t complain, for example through fear of eviction
  • Highlighting the importance of clarifying rights and responsibilities to tenants and landlord to ensure they make and resolve complaints with speed and accuracy
  • Sharing our views on how government can use the Renters’ Reform Bill to rebalance the relationship between landlords and tenants and use it as a vehicle to ensure better conditions in the PRS and ensure effective enforcement strategies when things go wrong
  • Understanding what landlords and tenants need from the civil justice system to enforce their rights and navigate the court system

Ruth Ehrlich, Policy Officer, Shelter (CONFIRMED)


12:00

Case Study: Protecting and Empowering Vulnerable Tenants in the Private Rented Sector

  • Outlining the current projects in place to protect vulnerable tenants, including the ‘Well Homes’ Scheme which offers inspection, advice on how to resolve disrepair and refers tenants to other services
  • Highlighting responses to the programme, including tenants feeling informed and empowered about their rights and responsibilities in the private rented sector
  • Sharing plans to work with the care service to ensure the most vulnerable young tenants are in decent, well-maintained homes, a project backed by the £4m Government Funding for tackling rogue landlords
  • Examining how these projects, along with a robust complaints procedure, will improve the private rented sector in Thurrock, and addressing the challenges to achieve this

Roger Harris, Corporate Director of Adults, Housing and Health, Thurrock Council (invited)


12:20

Questions and Answers Session


12:40

Lunch and Networking


Part 4: Working with Landlords and Letting Agents


13:40

Afternoon Keynote: Helping Letting Agents to Get Ahead in 2020

  • Exploring the role of letting agents in regulating the private rented sector including providing a voice and advice for tenants
  • Reflecting on how the increased costs on landlords due to the Tenancy Fees Act 2019 and the phasing out of Mortgage Interest Relief (MIR) has affected the letting industry, for example landlords neglecting maintenance standards to reduce costs
  • Highlighting best practice moving forward including an open rogue landlord database, minimum energy efficiency standard (EES) ratings and fire safety and electrical checks to help agencies vet potential employees
  • Sharing key findings from the The Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) working group recommendations, including licensed customer-facing staff

David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark (CONFIRMED)


14:00

Special Keynote: Building a Proactive Relationship with the Private Rented Sector

  • Highlighting the importance of landlords understanding their responsibilities and duties, and remaining up to date with legislative changes – the value of seeking training, accreditation and continuous professional development
  • Reflecting on government action taken to tackle ‘rogue’ landlords, including opening the Rogue Landlord Database to the public
  • Considering why licensing schemes are often ineffective at tackling criminal behavior in the private rented sector, and the value of local authorities building more positive relationships with their landlord community
  • Emphasizing the need for stronger enforcement to ensure that criminal landlords are driven out of the sector

Gavin Dick, Local Authority Policy Officer, National Landlords Association (CONFIRMED)


14:20

Case Study: Encouraging Landlords to Improve Standards Through Accreditation

  • Outlining the partnership between Unipol Student Homes, the National Landlords Association (NLA) and the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) to create the ‘Leeds Rental Standard’ scheme
  • Highlighting how the creation of a self-regulatory body to log, manage, and resolve any tenant complaints without Council involvement, allows the local authority to concentrate their regulatory resources on those that show no sign of meeting housing standards voluntarily
  • Sharing how the benefits of joining the scheme, including priority access to the Council Housing Officers advice and waste disposal concessions, are highlighted to landlords to encourage their participation
  • Reflecting on the decision to create a publicly accessible ‘accredited landlords database’ to encourage tenants to utilize the scheme and how this can be used in conjunction with a rogue landlords database

Mike Brook, Service Manager, Private Sector Housing, Leeds City Council (CONFIRMED)

Gavin Dick, Local Authority Policy Officer, National Landlords Association (CONFIRMED)


14:40

Questions and Answers Session


15:00

Networking and Refreshments


Part 5: Innovating Approach


15:20

Case Study: Planning for the Future - Utilising Technology to Tackle Rogue Landlords

  • Outlining the £90,000 funding Sunderland City Council has received from the Private Rented Sector Innovation and Enforcement Grant Fund to develop a smartphone reporting app for tenants and improve monitoring of properties
  • Analysing the plans for technological advancement, including new tenant reporting systems prepared for later this year
  • Highlighting how this project links with other enforcement actions currently being used by the council, including legal notices, court proceedings and civil penalties
  • Mapping the growing private rented sector, with 34,000 private rented properties in Sunderland and the unique challenges this poses

Fiona Brown, Executive Director of Neighbourhoods, Sunderland City Council (invited)


15:40

Case Study: Developing Wide-ranging Plans to Improve the Private Rented Sector

  • Outlining the expansion of the current licensing scheme for HMO landlords so that it covers all 20,000 private rented homes in Oxford
  • Highlighting how this will be enforced by developing a new intelligence-led model which uses an algorithm to identify properties in the private rented sector that are unlicensed
  • Sharing changes to governance, including the decision to take over powers to fine rogue landlords whose properties do not meet the legal minimum energy efficiency standards
  • Using a new lawyer to develop a civil law toolkit to pursue rogue landlords who attempt to dodge paying financial penalties

Ian Wright, Head of Regulatory Services and Community Safety, Oxford City Council (CONFIRMED)


16:00

Questions and Answers Session


16:20

Chair's Summary and Close

*Programme subject to change


According to the Office of National Statistics, 20% of all households are privately rented. While most landlords make sure their properties are fit for habitation, there is a small but resistant minority who flagrantly flout the law and endanger the lives of tenants and communities. In 2018, the government estimated that there are 10,500 rogue landlords are operating across the UK. In January 2020, the government awarded over 100 councils a share of over £4 million to tackle this issue.

There is a wide range of powers granted to local authorities to act against rogue landlords. Notably, since April 2017, local authorities have the power to impose banning orders, rent repayment orders and financial penalties of up to £30,000 on landlords who consistently breach standards of living. Under the Housing and Planning Act 2016, local authorities have also been encouraged to contribute to the Rogue Landlord Database.

Since this landmark publication, the government has also enacted The Homes (Fitness for Habitation) Act 2018, which came into force in March 2019, and the Tenancy Fees Act 2019. The Homes Act consolidates the standards of living, making it a legal responsibility for landlords to ensure their properties are free of hazards and provide a safe and healthy environment for tenants. Under the Act, tenants have the right to take action in courts for breach of contract on the grounds that the property is unfit for living. Additionally, The Tenancy Fees Act, which came in to force in June 2019, means that tenancy deposits are capped, and landlords and agents are banned from charging unnecessary fees.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has also released several online guides to support local authorities in implementation. For example, the Rogue Landlord Enforcement guide outlines best practices for identification, review, inspection, action and communication.

Despite the rich legislative landscape and guidance provided by the government, almost 90% of local authorities failed to use new powers to fine rogue landlords. Similarly, according to This is Money, in August 2019 only 12 names had been inputted on the Rogue Landlords Database. It is essential that local authorities act now, using the powers at their disposal to prevent rogue landlords from exploiting tenants and ensure they protect the most vulnerable residents across the UK.

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