I will speak to the amendments moved to and spoken by the noble Baronesses, Lady Grender and Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville. We all know the reality. The reality is that local authorities will be picking up this responsibility because people will be advised by the homeless charities or whatever to go to the local authority, and the local authority will have to pay. The question is: who should ultimately pay?
It may be that the Government should take upon themselves the right to take a charge on the landlord’s property. I know it would be very controversial—I am sure the lawyers would have a field day—but it would mean that the local authorities would get their money back. I therefore put that as a suggestion, which the Minister might wish to pursue when we get to Report.
Government Amendment 4, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Trafford, deals with further offences by the person who committed a first offence. What about people who transfer their interest, so that the further offence is committed by the person to whom the interest has been transferred? Clause 26 deals with the “Prohibition of certain disposals”. Subsection (1) states:
“A person who is subject to a banning order that includes a ban on letting may not make an unauthorised transfer of an estate in land to a prohibited person”.
Subsection (4) describes a “prohibited person” as,
“a person associated with the landlord”,
or , under subsection (4)(f),
“a body corporate in which the landlord has a shareholding or other financial interest”.
Subsection (5) states that an,
“‘associated person’ is to be read in accordance with section 178 of the Housing Act 1996”.
In that section of the 1996 Act, I am told that an “associated person” is someone who is in a marriage to, or is a cohabitee of, or lives with, or is a relative of the landlord, or someone whom the landlord is about to marry, or who is a child of the landlord. Does this include relationships that have developed and are registered overseas? Many landlords will be operating from overseas, so we will have great difficulty identifying who the owner of a particular property is.
This brings me to the second point, which is about,
“a body corporate in which the landlord has a shareholding or has a financial interest”.
What about companies registered outside the United Kingdom? The landlord might be in some tax haven or in some other part of the world, which is perfectly respectable but where we do not have much access to information. I think these bodies need to be more clearly defined in the law, and I wondered whether the noble Baroness might wish to comment on that as a proposition.