Bad landlord? Take away their property

A committee thinks local authorities should have the power to seize property from irresponsible landlords

A committee of UK politicians have argued that landlords found to be abusing their position should have their properties confiscated.

What it means: A committee investigating 'rogue landlords' has found that many vulnerable tenants often face evictions, unfair rent increases and harassment (surprise surprise). During its inquiry the committee heard of instances where up to 25 people could be found living in a single house with just three bedrooms. It also found landlords who charged tenants up to £500 for a bed in a room with four bunkbeds.

The argument about   conditions often comes down to a power imbalance between landlords and tenants in a competitive housing market. There's a shortage of housing, the tenants may be vulnerable, and don't have many other optiosn.

In this situation, some people (like the MPs) argue that you need tighter regulations (and appropriate punishments) to make sure landlords are behaving properly. Landlords don't currently have complete freedom to do what they like – they could face civil penalties of up to £30,000, and those who break the law can be banned from taking on tenants. But according to the committee it's rarely enforced.

Others say we should let the 'market' decide. If there’s a lot of landlords and not enough renters, there are competitive forces on the landlord to attract renters, incentivising them to bring down the rent and improve conditions.

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