London’s charismatic mayor, Boris Johnson, has said he wants to ban rogue landlords and see that repeat offenders face steep fines for infringements of the law.
A shortage of housing in London and around the country in general has meant a booming rental sector, with prices rising sharply. This has led to a rise in substandard and dangerous properties, as some landlords try to avoid their responsibilities. Boris Johnson has stated his desire to set up a database of landlords who break the law, and establish a fund for tenants bringing private prosecutions. He also wants to improve regulations so that rental agencies are more transparent about the fees they charge.
“This is in the spirit of not placing additional burdens on good landlords but strengthening London-wide efforts to eradicate bad practice by landlords and agents,” commented the deputy mayor for housing, Richard Blakeway.
However, it is still feared that some landlords will be unfairly disadvantaged, particularly due to changes coming in over the next few months and years. As interest rates are set to rise and tax breaks for landlords set to be cut by 2020, many will be forced to sell their properties because they will simply be uneconomical to run. Even now, many landlords are struggling to meet their bills, and as more onerous requirements are placed on them they will have little choice but to pass these costs onto tenants. There are also a large number of “accidental landlords” who did not intend to rent out their properties but ended up doing so as a stopgap measure for various reasons, including inheriting a property or having to relocate.
Landlords in any doubt about their responsibilities, or who believe they may be on the wrong side of the law, are encouraged to seek guidance from a property law specialist.
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