From today councils have new powers to crack down on rogue landlords with civil penalties of up to £30,000 per offence and rent repayment orders for up to 12 months rent.

Tenants will also be able to take rogue landlords to a tribunal to apply for a rent repayment order under strengthened rules which are part of the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

Councils will be able to retain all this income, to be used for private sector housing enforcement.

Rent repayment orders can now be imposed on landlords guilty of offences including illegal eviction, harassment of a property’s occupier and using violence to secure entry.

Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell said: “These measures will give councils the additional powers they need to tackle poor-quality rental homes in their area.

“By driving out of business those rogue landlords that continue to flout the rules, we can raise standards, improve affordability and give tenants the protections they need.”

The civil penalties are an alternative to prosecution for a variety of offences under the Housing Act 2004.

In the past local authorities would have to bring a criminal prosecution against the landlord or letting agent, which is a time-consuming process.

Civil penalties can be issued by local authorities for:

  • Failure to comply with an improvement notice;
  • Offences in relation to the licensing of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO);
  • Offences in relation to selective licensing under part 3 of the Housing Act 2004;
  • Contravention of an overcrowding notice; failure to comply with management regulations for HMOs.

Local authorities and tenants can now seek a rent repayment order against the landlord, where they can prove beyond reasonable doubt that the landlord is guilty of one of the qualifying offences:

  • Violence for securing entry;
  • Eviction or harassment of tenants;
  • Failure to comply with improvement notice;
  • Failure to comply with prohibition order;
  • Control or management of unlicensed HMO;
  • Control or management of unlicensed house.