The government has released more details on long-discussed proposals to tighten up licensing in the private rental sector.
It wants landlords in England who let a property to five or more people from at least two different families, to be licensed.
Under the plan, the maximum number of people who can occupy a room would be specified in the property’s licence – ending, in theory at least, some overcrowding in the rental sector.
The Department for Communities and Local Government believes that the change – which is still to be agreed by Parliament – would make a much greater proportion of flats and one and two-storey properties subject to licensing.
National mandatory licensing currently only applies if properties are three or more storeys.
It estimated that about 160,000 homes will be affected by the new proposals.
The government says it will also bring forward proposals to specify minimum bedroom sizes on homes to let, and has set out new offences which will lead to landlords being banned from letting out properties – these offences include burglary and stalking.
If convicted, landlords could be added to the ‘rogues database’ already revealed by the government and set to begin operating in April 2018.
Housing minister Alok Sharma says he wants to target “unscrupulous” landlords who profit from offering “overcrowded, squalid and sometimes dangerous homes … Through a raft of new powers we are giving councils the further tools they need to crackdown on these rogue landlords and kick them out of the business for good.”
Meanwhile Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has told The Independent newspaper that his party, if it reaches government, will make so-called ‘no fault’ evictions illegal.
“I think it’s a moral litmus test for the country: do we just put up with so many rough sleepers or do we do something about it. … I am very determined to bring some order and stability to their lives by longer tenancies and eviction that can only be there for good reason rather than just what can be retaliatory eviction,” he told the newspaper.
Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 allows a landlord to recover possession of a property by giving the tenant two months’ notice.
He repeated his 2017 party conference pledge that there would be longer tenancies and a “more regulated” private rented system under Labour.