As reported in The Telegraph back in June the Queen’s Speech is set to include important legislation that affects all landlords. Due to a crackdown on criminal gangs misusing properties this tightening up of legislation means we must all remain more diligent than ever before in making sure our tenants are not participating in criminal activity on our property. Whilst landlords are always committed to ensuring they rent to responsible and law abiding tenants, this new legislation will mean serious consequences for those who take no action. The owners of the residential properties (landlords) can now be prosecuted for ‘participation in an organised crime group’ if they fail to inform the police of any suspect action taking place in their properties.
Importantly the new legislation will also apply to commercial landlords as well as others who provide services such as transport or parcel delivery. The main target of the legislation is corrupt lawyers who may be turning a ‘blind eye’ when being hired to work for gangs of organised criminals and who are then able to avoid the consequences of their actions by claiming they were unaware of the activities being carried out under their noses.
The minister setup to combat organised crime, Karen Bradley, had this to say, “Nobody is above the law. But for too long corrupt lawyers, accountants and other professionals have tried to evade justice by hiding behind a veneer of respectability. This new offence sends out a clear message to those individuals – if you are helping to oil the wheels of organised crime, you will be prosecuted and face being jailed.”
The main target of the new legislation are those ‘Mr.Bigs’ who are protected in their overseeing of criminal networks because they are hard to link directly to the criminal activity taking place. A good example is a house that is used for the production of cannabis or as a drugs den – this would now be covered by the new rules, and the landlord liable for prosecution. In contrast if you were to rent a flat to the ‘gangster’ for use as a home this would not make you culpable as a landlord – your job is to be vigilant to criminal activity occurring on your premises.
What does this mean for Eastbourne landlords?
Screen your tenants as usual but act on anything remotely suspicious. This means do your homework; it’s not worth going to jail due to lack of care and attention when renting to a new tenant. These rules are being put in place to stop the worst kind of organised crime and each of us as landlords have a duty to work with the law in assisting their prevention. If you are diligent and thorough in your vetting of tenants then as a landlord you should have nothing to worry about.
What if you are suspicious of a tenant?
If you are suspicious of one of your tenants then take whatever evidence you may have to the police and make sure your concerns are on file. Even if the police do not appear to immediately act upon it this means you are covered for any future developments and that you have done your duty as a responsible landlord.
This is not the only recent crack down that Landlords are facing! see our article: ”Rental Properties Haunted by Ghost Tenants” for more information.