A scheme run by Boston Borough Council, funded by central government, and aimed at tackling the rogue landlord element, is to continue after the funding runs out next month.
Landlords who rent out overcrowded and potentially dangerous homes are being targeted in what has so far proved a successful exercise.
The “Rogue Landlord Project” was launched last January after Boston Borough Council was awarded £109,000 of Government funding as part of a national campaign to crack down on rogue landlords.
This funding comes to an end in March but encouraged by the success of the scheme, Boston Borough Council has decided to find a fresh pot of money to continue it.
The exercise involves a hotline for people to report rogue landlords who are then followed up with inspection visits and where necessary, the issuing of improvement notices. This means landlords may be ordered to complete any work needed to bring the buildings up to minimum health and safety standards, or they will face prosecution.
This scheme was introduced as an alternative to a proposed Boston landlord licensing scheme, a route that many other councils have gone down, which in many localities has resulted in antagonising responsible landlords.
This is because licensing schemes involve landlords in paying hundreds of pounds in fees for every rental property they own.
In Boston’s case it was found that permission for a licensing scheme could not be achieved after it emerged the levels of anti-social behaviour in the area were not high enough to force the scheme through.
Landlords had be told that Boston’s proposed licencing scheme would cost them £490 for each residential property, and could result in rent rises for all tenants in the private rented sector, shorter tenancy agreements and increased costs to other stretched council budgets as incidences of homelessness would increase.
Councillor Mike Gilbert, Boston Borough Council’s portfolio holder for housing, told the Boston Target News that the reactive scheme they have introduced instead has more than met expectations.
He had said:
“The situation is significantly better than it was.
“Landlords know the requirements for the minimum standards of housing.
“We are not accepting that hazards can be overlooked, they need to be addressed.
“Our intention is to make sure housing is habitable on behalf of the tenant. Some landlords offer housing that is in their own interest and not their tenants. They are putting houses on the market that are unsafe.”
Between February last year and the end of January this year, the council inspected 199 properties and issued 245 notices to make improvements.
Cllr Gilbert added:
“We are ahead of the game and things will not go backwards.
“It is a deterrent and we are proactive.
“I have not seen houses first hand, but I have seen photos of some appalling conditions like hazardous wiring and dampness that affected people’s quality of life. Some people are living in very bad conditions and this needs to be sorted. A kitchen may look fine, but then you get an electrical box with lots of wires hanging out which is a danger to children.
“The major issues are electrical and gas related.”
First year figures for landlord scheme:
As reported by Boston Target News the ‘rogue landlord’ figures for February 1 to January 31, 2015 were 199 properties visited/inspected.
A total of 245 notices have been served, made up as follows.
- 132 notices for power of entry
- 80 formal requests for information
- 9 demands for payment
- 8 improvement notices
- 8 hazard awareness notices
- 3 prohibition notices
- 2 emergency remedial notices
- 2 environmental protection notices
- 1 temporary exemption notice
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) February 19, 2015