Landlords have been blamed for turning parts of a seaside town into a crime-infested ghetto because the poorly manage shared houses in multiple occupation (HMO).
Police and the fire service have blamed bad landlords for the number of incidents they attend in Rhyl, North Wales.
The comments come from a police response to Denbigh County Council’s consultation looking at tougher HMO rules.
Beat officer Pc Les Jones slammed some neighbourhoods in the town as a ‘ghettoes’ and claimed landlords from outside the town and letting agents are failing to provide decent housing, which is encouraging bad tenants into the area.
These tenants are held responsible for antisocial behaviour and petty crime.
However, the town’s landlords hit back arguing the police have the job of keeping law and order in Rhyl, not private landlords.
“To imply licensing can resolve social problems when the landlord only has a contractual relationship with the tenant for renting out a property shows a lack of understanding of law,” said a landlord association spokesman.
“Landlords can only enforce a contract, they cannot manage behaviour.”
Pc Jones compared West End, Rhyl to a Victorian slum, mainly because of poor housing offered by HMO landlords.
The neighbourhood is rated the second most deprived area of Wales.
The council is spending millions of pounds on knocking down poor homes and building new ones around more open spaces.
The landlords explained more regulation won’t affect bad landlords who already ignore the law.
“Two things happen with more HMO regulation. Good landlords put up rents, as costs are passed on to tenants and the bad ones carry on ignoring the law,” said the spokesman.
“Councils are dreadful at prosecuting bad landlords. The prosecution rate across the England and Wales in 2012 was less than 500 out of 1.5 million landlords.
“I can guarantee there are more than 500 bad landlords out of that number. Councils don’t have the manpower or money to prosecute, so the good landlords eventually pull out of the area as the neighbourhood goes down and that leaves only the bad.”
“Criminal behaviour orders, improvement notices, litter abatement notices, crime prevention injunctions are all powers that the council has, so why aren’t they used?”