Landlords could soon face punishment of up to five years’ imprisonment if they fail to inform the police of criminal activity taking place in their properties. Lydia Anderson, a specialist property management solicitor with Brady Solicitors explains this new offence.
In the Queen’s Speech on 4 June 2014 it was announced that landlords could face up to five years in prison if they are found guilty of ‘participation in an organised crime group’.
In order to be found guilty of the crime, the landlord must have failed to report their suspicions to the police that their leased property is being used for criminal purposes.
The new offence will make it difficult for both residential, and commercial, landlords, to turn a blind eye to any suspected criminal activity taking place on their premises, such as growing cannabis or using the property as a drug den.
So long as landlords report anything suspicious to the Police, they will be protected.
Clearly there will be some grey areas; landlords who are not based close to their property are unlikely to have the same suspicions or knowledge of activity as a landlord who is within reasonable proximity to the property.
Whilst the new legislation makes no reference to this scenario, it was confirmed by a Home Office spokesperson that the landlord must have believed that their property was essential to the criminal activities taking place, as opposed to the persons conducting the criminal activities simply residing in the property. This could offer some leeway for the landlord.
The potential to be found guilty of participation in an organised crime group should make all landlords wary of ignoring suspected criminal activity in their rented properties, whether your tenants are residential or commercial.
If you suspect criminal activity is taking place in one of your leased properties the duty is now on you, as the landlord, to inform the police.
For help or advice with any legal property management query or dispute, email Brady Solicitors or call us on 0115 985 3450 and we’ll be pleased to discuss your options with you.