William Eichler 22 January 2016

Funding increase for councils to crack down on ‘cowboy’ landlords

Councils will receive a £5m boost to help them tackle rogue landlords in their area, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis announced today.

The extra money will be divided between 48 councils in order to provide them with the means to take on landlords who force tenants to live in squalid and dangerous properties.

The funding will allow for more raids, an increase in property inspections, statutory notices, and street surveys. It will also pay for the demolishing of ‘beds in sheds’ and prohibited buildings.

The housing minister also emphasised that the poor quality, overcrowded and dangerous accommodation let by rogue landlords has a negative impact on wider society, with noise, sanitation, fire risks, and anti-social behaviour being among some of the results.

The new funding will be included in a raft of proposals designed to protect private renters in the Housing and Planning Bill, such as a database of rogue landlords and property agents convicted of certain offences and banning orders for the most serious and prolific offenders.

Brandon Lewis said: ‘Many private rental tenants are happy with their home and the service they receive, but there are still rogue landlords that exploit vulnerable people and force their tenants to live in overcrowded and squalid accommodation.

‘We are determined to tackle these rogues which is why we are providing 48 councils with extra funding, so they can get rid of the cowboy operators in their area and bring an end to tenants living in miserable homes in the name of profit.

‘We also want to raise the quality and choice of rental accommodation across the sector. The funding will ensure tenants know what level of service they can expect and have confidence to get help and take action if things go wrong.’

Responding to the Government's announcement of the extra funding, Cllr Peter Box, LGA Housing spokesman, said:

'Councils are at the forefront of tackling rogue landlords and the announcement of this funding will assist councils who have been increasingly affected by the growing problem, and will help towards bringing the system for prosecuting rogue landlords into the 21st century.

'The private rented sector is growing and, with limited resources and competing funding pressures, councils are working hard to ensure that rogue landlords are dealt with robustly and effectively. However, they are too often being hamstrung by an outdated system. It can take more than a year to prosecute a rogue operator and in many cases paltry fines are handed out to criminal landlords.

'Proposals in the Housing and Planning Bill for banning orders for the worst operators in the private rented sector will help councils tackle this issue, as will the flexibility to issue fines to private landlords as an alternative to prosecutions. We will be working with the Government to ensure measures in the Bill are properly resourced so councils can make full use of them.'

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