A legion of housing enforcement officers is being trained up to bolster London’s fight against rogue landlords, with plans to roll out the scheme across the UK.
The first cohort is studying at Middlesex University for a new level five, 12-month housing enforcement qualification – Private Sector Housing Interventions – which takes people with little or no housing experience in environmental health or PRS housing and equips them to carry out the duties of a PRS enforcement officer.
The course has been set up jointly by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to address the lack of qualified and experienced staff following years of cuts in local authorities.
Landlords regularly voice their frustration when this translates into councils struggling to police licensing schemes.
Khan is funding the programme, which is only open to London councils, but if successful, could be rolled out nationally.
He wants to see tougher penalties for rogue operators and says: “This new qualification will give councils across London the workforce and expertise to mediate disputes, enforce standards and crackdown= on the rogues who give the many honest operators in the sector a bad name.”
Dr Alan Page (pictured), associate professor of environmental and public health at Middlesex University, adds: “These students will add really able practitioners to London enforcement teams and thereby increase capacity to improve the sector and the life circumstances of tenants.”
CIEH has been trying to generate more interest in the environmental health profession through social media campaigns and has also called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to create a national apprenticeships fund for local authorities, to help them fund the cost of training more environmental health practitioners.