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The Housing Minister Grant Shapps has again dropped another broad hint that the Government plan to step in and regulate the UK Private Rental sector affecting the rights of both Landlords and Tenants.

A proposed new bill of rights for Buy-To-Let (BTL) landlords and tenants in the UK private rental sector could be introduced by the Government in an attempt to make the PRS market easier to operate in.

The Housing minister said that the plan was to take all the separate housing regulation for both parties and group them in an umbrella-style document, covering all bases. The plans are thought to include regulation covering fire safety and anti-social behaviour.

Mr Shapps said: “One way of reducing the regulatory burden on landlords but also improving the safety and security for tenants would be to provide a central, standardised document, containing all landlord and tenant responsibilities from fire safety to anti-social behaviour.”

Lib Dem MP, Adrian Sanders, is also in favour of the proposed changes, stating that it would “simplify” the private rental sector, in the same way that the planning sector has benefited from a similar scheme.

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Will UK Government act to end the bad practices of rogue landlords?

Legislation is needed to eliminate rogue landlords

With various UK landlord associations, official trade bodies and voluntary charitable agencies all lobbying government and campaigning to stamp out rogue landlords in the UK Private Rented Sector, the government have finally decided to take action.

The coalition Government’s Housing minister, Grant Shapps has revealed that he will be issuing guidance about rogue landlords following talks with interested parties.

The statement could have sent chills down the spines of many underperforming landlords and earned the government a huge chunk of industry respect; however it turned out to be a bit of a damp squib.

In response to a question from Labour MP for Coventry, Jim Cunningham, in the House of Commons, Mr Shapps said: “I have just held a meeting with the interested parties about rogue landlords. They are a matter of considerable concern, and I will be pulling together all the powers and issuing a booklet on that shortly.”

Are the government just paying lip service to landlord associations or will they ever issue legislation to encourage a strict code of conduct among UK landlords?

Shapps denied removing any of the protections from landlords or tenants in the UK private rented sector, saying: “It is worth remembering that actual measures consistently show that people are happier in the private rented sector than in the social sector, which might surprise him. I can also tell him that 90% of tenancies are ended by the tenant, not by the landlord.”

Shapps also said that the number of non-decent homes in the UK private rented sector has fallen from 47% in 2006 to 37%.

Labour’s shadow housing minister, Jack Dromey took Mr Shapps to task about his previous claims in the House of Commons on private rents supposedly falling in response to caps to housing benefit. – Read the full story here

Mr Dromey said: “Both the housing minister and the Prime Minister, out of touch with reality, have asserted on the floor of the House of Commons that rents are falling in the private rented sector. An analysis conducted by the House of Commons Library reveals that in 90% of local authorities in England, in all nine regions, rents are rising or staying the same. Will the housing minister now admit to the 1.1 Million families struggling to pay their rent that he got it wrong?”

Shapps admitted to having used the survey by LSL, (The parent company of estate agency chains Your Move and Reeds Rains), but said it had not been wrong to say rents are going down. He said: “The LSL survey shows that in the three months through to January, rents actually fell, but we do not have to believe LSL. There was rightly some scepticism there – LSL measures only buy-to-let – so let us instead look at the absolutely authoritative figures recently produced by the English Housing Survey, which show that in real terms, rents have fallen in the past year.”

Council tenants in England who sub-let their homes could now face up to 2 years in prison under the coalition government’s new proposals.

The government plans would see the creation of a new criminal offence “Tenancy Fraud”, with a fine of up to £50,000 also possible.

UK Government officials estimate that up to 160,000 tenants sub-let their council homes to other people at cost of £5 Billion a year to the taxpayer.

Grant Shapps, the UK’s Government Housing Minister said: “Tenancy cheats are taking advantage of a vital support system for some of the most vulnerable people in our society and getting away with a slap on the wrist while our waiting lists continue to grow. It’s time for these swindlers to pay the price. It would cost us billions of pounds to replace the huge number of unlawfully occupied social homes across the country. Meanwhile tenancy cheats can earn thousands of pounds letting out their property, which was given to them in good faith and which could instead be offering a stable home to a family in need. The proposals I’ve announced today would not only deliver justice to these fraudsters but will also act as a deterrent to those who think they can earn a fast buck from this precious resource. I want everyone to know that our country’s social homes are going to those in genuine need, not providing a ‘nice little earner’ to someone who could afford to live elsewhere.”

Local councils would also receive more powers to investigate fraud, including better access to information from banks and utility companies.

Ministers are putting the proposals forward for consultation.

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