Council identifies 13,000 landlords who have failed to declare rental income

Council identifies 13,000 landlords who have failed to declare rental income
A London council has been working with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to identify landlords that have failed to declare their rental income.

Newham Council – which has 27,000 landlords registered through its compulsory licensing scheme – says 13,000 have not registered for self-assessment.

It has previously estimated that unpaid tax from landlords could be costing the public purse up to £200 million across the capital.

“It is our understanding that, to date, up to 13,000 Newham landlords are of interest to HMRC, where there are discrepancies between declared income and our records, with potentially significant financial implication for the exchequer,” wrote Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham, in a letter to the chancellor, Philip Hammond.

“At a time when local authorities are experiencing savage cuts and Newham alone has had half its grant funding cut; possible tax evasion on this scale takes money from vital public services.”

“This is money out of the pockets of our poorest residents who rely on our services the most.”

The Guardian reports that HMRC is currently contacting Newham landlords who have failed to register their rental revenues.

Newham introduced its borough-wide licensing scheme in 2013 and is currently in the process of applying for a renewal.

Over the last five years, the council reports that it has instigated 1,135 prosecutions for housing crimes, banned 28 of the worst landlords from operating in the borough, recovered over £2.6 million a year in council tax and served 2,170 notices to improve housing conditions and management.

He says that the licensing scheme in Newham has ‘overwhelming’ support from residents and even from ‘most landlords’. He says this is because rogue landlords drive down standards and give good landlords a bad name.

In the piece, which you can read here, Collinson asks whether we have gone too far in ‘vilifying’ landlords.

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Brighton landlord prosecuted for unlicensed HMO

Brighton & Hove City Council’s planning enforcement team has prosecuted a landlord for letting a Brighton home as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) without a licence, in the first successful prosecution by the council regarding an unauthorised conversion of a house into a small HMO.

James Trevor Ford of Maidstone Road, Horsmonden in Kent had made no attempt to secure permission for the change of use of 64 Upper Lewes Road in Brighton, said the council.

He claimed that the house had already been accepted for use as an HMO – however, council records showed that it was listed as a single family dwelling, even though Ford had let the property to six students through the Brighton Accommodation Agency.

Ford was fined £3,000 with £1,270 costs and a victim surcharge of £170, after pleading guilty at Brighton Magistrates’ Court.

Council officers were alerted to the unauthorised HMO by residents living nearby. The planning service issued an enforcement notice at the end of 2016, requiring Ford to comply.

Chair of Brighton & Hove’s city planning committee, Councillor Julie Cattell, said:

“This case sends a strong message that we’ll go to court, if we must, when HMOs are let without proper planning consent.

“Students are a vital contributor to the city’s economic and cultural life – it’s very important letting agencies familiarise themselves with planning rules.

“It’s unfair to give students serious accommodation problems by letting them share unauthorised houses.

“We are grateful to residents for bringing this to our attention – we understand this house is now vacant, which means it should soon be available for family accommodation, as originally intended.”

In April 2013, the council assumed special powers, meaning landlords need planning permission to convert houses into HMOs in five council wards, including Hanover and Elm Grove, Hollingdean and Stanmer, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, Queens Park, and St Peter’s and North Laine.

Since May 2015, the council has won at least 11 cases where landlords have appealed to the government against the local authority refusing planning permission for HMO conversions.

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