Local authorities have welcomed a funding commitment by the Government aimed at cracking down on criminal landlords and letting agents.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick today announced that more than 100 councils across England have been awarded a share of over £4m to help them tackle rogue actors in the housing sector.
‘It’s completely unacceptable that a minority of unscrupulous landlords continue to break the law and provide homes which fall short of the standards we rightly expect – making lives difficult for hard-working tenants who just want to get on with their lives,’ said Mr Jenrick.
‘Everyone deserves to live in a home that is safe and secure and the funding announced today will strengthen councils’ powers to crack down on poor landlords and drive up standards in the private rented sector for renters across the country.’
Twenty-one councils across Yorkshire and Humberside will receive a share of the funding to train over 100 enforcement officers to ensure standards are being met by landlords.
Northampton Borough Council will also use the money to create a ‘Special Operations Unit’ to enforce against the worst landlords responsible for over 100 homes in the town.
Meanwhile, Thurrock Council will use their share of the £4m to work with the care service to ensure the most vulnerable young tenants are in decent, well-maintained homes.
Greenwich Council will also reportedly trial new technology to identify particularly cold homes to ensure renters are warm over the winter period.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) housing spokesperson, said the LGA was ‘pleased’ by the announcement.
‘Councils are doing what they can to raise standards in the private rented sector and are taking action where required, and it is important to note that most landlords are responsible and provide decent housing for their tenants,’ he continued.
‘However, this is being undermined by the small minority of landlords who exploit loopholes with no regard to their responsibilities.
‘Councils want to work with the Government to raise standards in the private rented sector, and could do more if they were given the right tools, like greater freedom to establish local licensing schemes for landlords.’
David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), said that the funding commitment was 'nowhere near enough.'
'Instead of offering inadequate and sporadic pots of money, it is critical that the Government provides proper, multi-year funding to enable councils to plan and prepare workable strategies to find the criminal landlords,' he said.
'This should be supported by councils having the political will to prioritise enforcement against the crooks rather than tying good landlords up in licensing schemes which do nothing to protect tenants.'