by Steve Beasant on 19 September, 2015
Councils need greater powers to tackle rogue landlords taking advantage of residents struggling to find decent housing in the private rented sector. All too often landlords found ripping off their tenants have not been flagged by pre-licence tests and have shrugged off paltry fines when councils have taken them to court.
In response to a government consultation, the Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, has called for tougher sentencing guidelines for magistrates and a wider range of penalties so that the small minority of rogue landlords who exploit their tenants are properly held to account for renting out sub-standard accommodation.
Councils are also calling for support to make robust decisions around what constitutes a “fit and proper person” to hold a landlord licence and have broadly supported the idea of a blacklist of persistent rogue landlords. However they have asked that government clarify how a blacklist will be funded and where the administrative burden of maintaining it would fall.
In addition to how rogue landlords can be held to account, councils are also keen to see stronger powers put in place to allow them to release surplus public land to support large scale investment in the private rented sector.
LGA Housing spokesman Cllr Peter Box said: “For the private rented sector to succeed, it needs a local response, led by councils. That means giving councils the tools to be truly effective against landlords who take advantage of tenants.
“The courts need to punish rogue landlords proportionately and there should be a consistent standard when it comes to licensing. But we also need to tackle this problem at source by finding ways to ensure there is an adequate supply of good quality housing in the private rented sector.
“We know that the majority of tenants in the private rented sector are satisfied with their accommodation, but that shouldn’t distract from the fact there are far too many rogue landlords creating misery for people who often see themselves as having little choice but to put up with it.
“It is no coincidence that problems are more prevalent in areas where economic conditions and the local housing market have driven demand higher than supply and we need to recognise that the real solution is creating conditions where landlords can’t afford to neglect their responsibilities and exploit their tenants.”
In response to a Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) technical discussion paper titled, ‘Tackling rogue landlords and improving the private rental sector’, the LGA has put forward a number of recommendations. These include:
Councils work in partnership with investors and landlords of all tenures to raise standards across the private rented sector and encourage investment to meet demand through effective use of planning powers, coordinating action and investment.
Councils also invest in new and existing private rented housing and work closely with landlords, using their enforcement powers as a last resort to tackle unacceptable standards and criminal landlords.Leave a comment