The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) says not enough is being done to tackle rogue landlords and that radical action is needed to protect tenants from the grip of criminal landlords.
The RLA’s call follows a Freedom of Information (FoI) request showing that the data points to worryingly low levels of enforcement of rented housing regulations by local councils.
Responsible landlords have been calling on local councils, for many years, to clamp down on the rogues. These lawbreakers operating under the radar in every UK town and city are giving all landlords, and the private rented sector industry as a whole, a bad name. They are causing untold misery for vulnerable tenants and fuelling anti-landlord sentiment from the public, even for the good landlords providing a valuable community service.
According to the data obtained by the RLA, among the 255 councils that responded, just 827 prosecutions had been taken out against landlords over the last five years following notices to improve a property being issued.
The RLA say they are: “…not naive enough to think that so few landlords have breached their legal obligations over such a long period of time. Research has shown that there are over 140 Acts of Parliament containing over 400 regulations affecting the sector.”
These figures stand in stark contrast to one London borough: the London Borough of Newham which, although it did not submit a response to the FoI request, has published figures showing that since January 2013 it alone has undertaken 779 prosecutions of landlords.
Since 2013 the Newham Council has worked closely with the police, HM Revenue and Customs and the UK Border Agency to use the wide range of powers already available to root criminal landlords. It has embarked on a series of high profile raids of properties that are clearly sub-standard or overcrowded.
It seems that despite central government initiatives and extra funding for councils to tackle the problems, in many localities, nothing much has changed. This is not only destroying the reputations of all good landlords, it is causing untold misery for some tenants.
The RLA is calling for a radical national overhaul of the way regulations are enforced, enabling the majority of good landlords to be regulated by robust industry-run schemes, freeing councils to find and punish the criminals who often preying on vulnerable tenants.
Alan Ward, Chairman of the Residential Landlords Association said:
“Tenants and good landlords are being let down by a system unable to cope with the powers already available to root out the crooks.
“Unsafe and insanitary housing has no place in the 21st century – those responsible put the lives of their tenants in jeopardy. It angers the majority of decent landlords who enjoy good relations with their tenants.
“Newham Council shows that with the will and resources councils already have the powers needed to protect tenants from bad landlords.
“Rather than tinkering around the edges we need a radical overhaul of the way the sector is regulated, freeing councils to find the crooks. The message should be clear to those renting out substandard housing – get it sorted or face the full force of the law.”
Action needed to protect tenants https://t.co/l5y35A1NPr
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) May 11, 2016