While the number of families renting from private landlords has continuously increased in the past years, incidents involving rogue landlords renting out uninhabitable and dangerous properties have also surged. More and more families have had to endure living in unsafe, dirty homes that are in disrepair. 

As a result, the Government is feeling the pressure from  tenant rights campaigners and supporters who are asking for  a reliable landlord registration scheme. A national register, according to campaigners, will help address ongoing  tenant problems such as rental properties that are equivalent to beds-in-sheds or living in the slums. 

Most of England’s rental properties are not covered by any landlords licensing schemes. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland have selective licence schemes that protect selected council areas. The schemes allow them to closely monitor and regulate landlords.

An organisation representing private renters believes that current licencing schemes have successfully proven how they can determine rental homes that are unsafe and how these properties can be transformed to follow habitable standards. However, this does not change the fact that most private rental tenants are still not protected by these schemes. 

Tenants need more than just smaller schemes if the goal is complete, efficient protection. Therefore, the group is pushing for the creation of a national register for landlords. Licencing landlords is the most effective and practical solution. It significantly raises the success rate of raising private rental property standards.

There are numbers to back up the organisation’s claim, especially if you look at the figures from the previous year. English councils that implemented selective licencing schemes acted on over 5,000 rental homes that reportedly had health hazards. This is an equivalent to a per-council average of around 158 homes. On the other hand, councils that do not have licencing schemes were able to identify an average of only 63 unsafe rental properties.  

Licencing landlords will not only protect renters’ health and safety but will also address tax gap issues. Latest estimates reveal that there is an annual tax gap of around £540 million, all a result of undeclared rent.

Rogue landlords

Rogue landlords like to prey on innocent, law-abiding tenants by committing illegal landlord practices, sometimes one after another. One such case involves a landlord who declared that he was God’s chosen, gifted, and anointed apostle. 

In 2013, Peter Anuba’s attention was called by the council in relation to the demolition of an outbuilding that was turned into a residential rental property. He was ordered to follow the enforcement notice and twice ignored it. So, earlier this year, Anuba faced the courts and was given a confiscation order worth £300,000 for income earned starting 2013. In addition, the rogue landlord was asked to pay legal costs and fines amounting to around £36,000.

Anuba is the perfect example of a rogue landlord who keeps collecting money but does not do anything to abide by enforcement notices and rental rules and laws. Irresponsible landlords like him are the target of the proposed national register. 

Two other landlords, a couple named Mohamed Lahrie and Shehara, were caught renting out properties to tenants who didn’t exist – ghost tenants. Their six rental properties were rented out to just one tenant, who, in reality, was the couple’s letting agent. Mohamed and Shehara did not want to pay their council fees, which is why they resorted to illegal landlord tactics.

Mohamed was ordered to pay a £126,500 fine while Shehara was handed a £60,500 fine.

Property Ladder London Limited’s director, Muqeem Amin, also caught the council’s attention after he rented a property in Leyton without fixing the disrepair. The property was in the worst condition one could ever imagine – an unsafe staircase leading to the flat, blocked drains, dangerous electrical sockets, and a limited number of fire alarms. The home wasn’t licenced as well.

After pleading guilty to the charges against him, Amin, also known as Mohammed Bhatti, was ordered to pay legal costs and fines amounting to £82,000. 

There are countless other reports of similar and even severe cases of rogue landlords engaged in illegal behaviour and practices. But the biggest one, so far, involved a Willesden, North London landlord by the name of Mohammed Mehdi Ali. According to the Brent Council, Ali’s residential rental properties were some of the worst that they have ever seen in years. For his substandard housing, the rogue landlord was fined £739,263, in addition to a £75,000 and legal costs amounting to £30,000.

These are just some examples of illegal landlord situations that prove how helpful a national register will be. Most of these cases were identified through local licencing schemes. Bringing the schemes to the national level will help address more slum landlord issues such as those involving tenancy deposit protection and deposit refunds.

Tenancy Deposit Claims

While waiting for the Government to keep their promise of a national register for landlords, if you have landlord and tenancy-related problems, it is best to call on a team of experienced solicitors. If your issue is on tenancy deposit protection claims, find a team of solicitors with expertise in the matter. Go for those who are authorised and regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority, such as the solicitors at Tenancy Deposit Claims. They’ll give you the service and protection you need to make a successful deposit protection compensation claim.