The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee (HCLG) is calling for the government to address a ‘clear power imbalance’ between the landlord and tenant. It comes following the release of an HCLG report on the private rented sector, released on 19th April 2018, concluding that the most vulnerable tenants need greater legal protection from rent increases, harassment and retaliatory evictions in order for them to be fully empowered to pursue complaints about maintenance and repairs in their homes.
One in five households now live in private rented accommodation. Whilst the majority of households are satisfied with the quality of their homes, the inquiry focused on the lower end of the market: the 800,000 private rented homes that have a Category One hazard, such as excess cold or mould. 44% of these tenants said a fear of retaliatory eviction would stop them from making a complaint to their landlord; and 200,000 tenants reported having been abused or harassed by a landlord.
The new report calls for the Government to give local authorities the power to confiscate properties from landlords committing the most severe offences and whose success relied on the exploitation of vulnerable tenants.
Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, said: “The imbalance in power in the private rented sector means vulnerable tenants often lack protection from unscrupulous landlords who can threaten them with retaliatory rent rises and eviction if they complain about unacceptable conditions in their homes.
“Local authorities need the power to levy more substantial fines against landlords and in the case of the most serious offenders, ultimately be able to confiscate their properties. Such powers are however meaningless if they are not enforced and at the same time councils need more resources to carry out effective prosecutions.
“Stronger powers, harsher fines and a new commitment to cracking down on unscrupulous practices will go some way towards rebalancing the sector and protecting the many thousands of vulnerable residents who have been abused and harassed by a landlord.”
Source: Private Rented Sector Professionals
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