Rogue landlords are constantly in the news. Whether it be as a result of parliament raising their awareness and concern or due to the continuous discovery of them by police and local councils. But exactly how big is the issue of rogue landlords within the private rental sector?
The most recent rogue landlord to be caught out was Michael Aslam from Reading, or better known as the ‘bed in a shed landlord’.
Mr Aslam was sentenced to a £200,000 fine at Isleworth Crown Court on Tuesday 10th June.
Michael Aslam was found guilty of 2 offences following his lack of compliance with planning enforcement notices issued by Hillingdon Council. The offences included ignoring orders to demolish an outhouse being used as an illegal rental property, and continuing to use the main property as well as the neighbouring house as an unlicensed hotel. Consequently, Mr Aslam continued to generate illegal rental income as a result of breaching the orders.
Cllr Keith Burrows, Cabinet Member for Planning, Transportation and Recycling, said: “This is a great courtroom victory for the council and I am delighted that the judge has recognised how much work and effort has gone into this case”.
Judge HHJ McDowall went on to fine Aslam £7,500 for each offence (total of £15,000) with payment due within 6 months or serve a 12 month prison sentence by default. Furthermore, under the Proceeds of Crime Act the judge ordered that Aslam payback £170,000 in full within 6 months or face a further 30 months jail time. The £170,000 will then be divided between the council, HM Treasury and the Court’s and Tribunal service. Finally, Aslam was also faced with the bill for the council’s legal costs, amounting to £17,676. Giving Mr Aslam a total fine of £202,676.
Following the discovery of Michael Aslam comes the news of police raids in the London borough of Lewisham where 31 incidents of illegal activity by landlords were discovered.
Raids on 25 properties that took place in June uncovered the following:
- 4 new criminal landlords, owning 50 properties between them, partaking in (high level) tax evasion
- 3 unauthorised structures in need of abolishing as well as a 4th outbuildings used for illegal lettings
- a restaurant illegally converted into 6 sub-standard studio flats
- 5 unlicensed houses in multiple occupation with critical health and safety hazards (including a 3 bedroom house occupied by 29 people)
- 15 addresses with dangerous, stolen or unregistered utility metres
- 2 cannabis factories operating from stolen electricity & creating severe fire hazards
Since the raids legal action has begun concerning the closing down of the cannabis factories as well as the process of fining landlords involved in criminal offences and recouping public money and tenants money that was fraudulently obtained.
Finally, in response to the ever unfolding discoveries of rogue landlords, MPs have taken actions towards improving the market with the production of a report entitled ‘Creating a better rented sector’.
According to a written report by MPs and peers rogue landlords should be subjected to nationwide banning orders to prevent substandard properties being let to vulnerable tenants. Furthermore, the suggestion of a new kite mark has been suggested in order to show when a rented home is up to par.
Due to the fact that the number of homes privately rented has overtaken the number within the social rented sector, the system governing property investors is being called in for a full review to determine whether it remains fit for purpose. As a result, the all-parliamentary group set out measures it believed the government should consider, including the introduction of a national license for landlords, more training for landlords and nationwide banning orders to prevent lawbreakers from continuing to be landlords.
Furthermore, the group report also recommended that a single guide for tenants be created, including a checklist of questions to ask.
Landlord facing prison if he cannot pay £200,000 fine. Source
Police raids uncover rogue landlords. Source
Rogue landlords should face nationwide bans say MPs. Source