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Councils given £2 million to fund crackdown on rogue landlords

Thursday 08 November 2018

As a result of new funding announced by the Government today, councils will be able to bid for a share of a £2 million fund designed to help local authorities step up enforcement action against rogue landlords.

According to Government figures, there are more than 4.5 million households in the private rented sector in England, and 82% of private renters are satisfied with their accommodation. However, there are still landlords out there who don't use professional lettings agents, such as ARLA Propertymark Protected agents who have to abide by a strict code of practice and offer renters a high level of protection. Others choose to rent directly to tenants and don't adhere to the law, either out of ignorance or willful neglect. 

The fund will help councils take on the most common challenges that stand in the way of tackling poor standards in the private rented sector, including:

  • the need for better information – on housing stock and on landlords and agents operating in their areas
  • data sharing between authorities and agencies – identifying and bringing together different data sets to enable better enforcement targeting
  • internal ‘ways of working’ – improving housing-specific legal expertise, in-house communication between teams, and tools and strategies to effectively implement policy
  • innovative software – for enforcement officers to record their findings, gather evidence and streamline the enforcement process”

Housing Minister, Heather Wheeler said:

"This funding will help further strengthen councils’ powers to tackle rogue landlords and ensure that poor-quality homes in their area are improved, making the housing market fairer for everyone."

The £2 million funding has been made available for the financial year 2018/2019 and local authorities have been told that they must be able to "mobilise and spend the money provided, and support people as soon as possible."

The news comes following the announcement earlier this month that the Government have also seen the light over the landlord 'rogues database' and promised to make it publicly available to which David Cox responded: “Yesterday’s announcement that the database for rogue landlords and letting agents is going to be made available to tenants is a triumph for the industry. Keeping it hidden was a prime example of when the Government didn’t think about the unintended consequences of the policy, which is why we have branded it ‘truly ridiculous’ up until now.

We’re pleased they have finally listened to what the industry has been saying since it was put into the Housing and Planning Bill nearly three years ago. We hope the database will now fulfil the objective of professionalising the sector, which we all wanted it to”

We've called for greater resources for local authorities and enforcement for some time, most recently in our consultation response to combating rogue landlords, and believe that any fines collected a a result of housing breeches should be ring-fenced with the money going to further enforcement. 

In our response, we also said that where enforcement does take place there needs to be better joined up working between local enforcement agencies, otherwise the local enforcement regime is fundamentally undermined.  

We cited HomeStamp in the West Midlands as an example of where statutory and industry bodies work closely on enforcement and sector regulation to improve the supply of good quality private rented homes. The organisation is a multi-agency partnership comprising of local authorities, private rented sector bodies, universities, Police and Fire services. Collaborative working is more important than ever within the private rented sector; particularly as a result of new measures such as the Right to Rent checks and the need to determine the identity of potential tenants.

Read the full Government announcement