Despite countless new rules and regulations affecting private landlords, most of them designed to strengthen the law so that more rogue landlords can be brought to book, few of them are being effectively tackled by local authorities.
For example, in London around half of councils did not fine a single landlord in the whole of 2019 over the conditions that tenants were living in. This is when it is common knowledge that most boroughs in London have at lease some rental properties in appalling condition.
A new report produced by tenant activist group Generation Rent claims it has analysed the Rogue Landlord and Agent Checker produced by the Greater London Authority and found that in the 12 months to the 26th of February, there were just 292 fines issued by 17 London boroughs, a total amount of £1.04m.
Far from the new laws increasing the effectiveness of enforcement, the figures show that on the previous 12 months the figures show that the number of fines levies were down from 433 offences, which then brought in £1.66m.
Generation Rent claims there are 130,000 private rented homes in London which do not have the correct licence, though according to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) they do not substantiate this.
Generation Rent has said:
“In the last year 15 councils did not record a single fine on the GLA rogue landlord database. Nine councils did not prosecute or issue a civil penalty to a single landlord in the last two years: Bexley, Bromley, Hackney, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Kingston, Lewisham, Merton and Sutton.”
The organisation discovered that in 130 of the 292 cases recorded in the last 12 months, the tenant would have been entitled to reclaim up to 12 months’ rent from the landlord through a Rent Repayment Order (RRO). This was because the landlord had either failed to obtain a licence or make improvements to the property when ordered to do so by the council.
When Generation Rent obtained data through Freedom of Information requests though, only six councils had helped renters apply for RROs in 2018-19, with just 20 tenants getting assistance.
Landlord organisations such as the RLA and the NLA have argued for many years that local authorities have always had adequate laws to deal with the problem of rogue landlords, but they have consistently failed to use them.
It seems the government is powerless to make local authorities act, so it just keep enacting new legislation. The end result is the myriad and complexity of the mounting number of rules and regulations just makes life much more difficult for responsible landlords, those providing a good service, while the rogues continue to get away with it! Generation Rent seems to agree.
Dan Wilson Craw, Generation Rent’s director, has said:
“Laws to keep our homes safe only mean anything if they are enforced, and if landlords understand the consequences of cutting corners. Despite squalid conditions facing many of London’s renters, councils have a very mixed record on bringing the landlords responsible to justice.
“The next Mayor of London could turn this around by making it easier for renters to use Rent Repayment Orders against criminal landlords. We want all candidates for Mayor to commit to upgrading the City Hall website to let Londoners check if their landlord has the right licence and help them take action.”