Housing Secretary, the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, announced today that he has pledged new funding to be used to crack down on criminal landlords. In a press release issued this morning, the Housing Secretary said that more than 100 councils across England have been awarded a share of over £4 million which will be used to bring the hammer down on both criminal landlords and lettings agents.
There are more than 4.5 million households in the private rented sector in England, with recent statistics showing that 82% of private renters are satisfied with their accommodation.
Jenrick pointed out that while most landlords provide decent homes for their tenants, there is a small minority who persist in breaking the law, making tenants’ lives miserable by offering inadequate or unsafe housing. The new funding will be used by councils to take enforcement action against these delinquent landlords, as well as advise tenants of their housing rights.
“Councils already have strong powers to force landlords to make necessary improvements to a property through the use of a range of measures, including civil penalties and banning orders for the worst offenders,” says Jenrick. “The grants will support a range of projects to enable councils to make the best use of these powers. This will include trialling innovative ideas, sharing best practice and targeted enforcement where we know landlords shirk their responsibilities.”
The Guild’s inhouse Compliance Officer, Paul Offley, says: “We fully support this initiative as it will ensure that rogue landlords and letting agents are punished for breaking the law and it will also ensure that more tenants are treated fairly. With the funding providing councils with a means to crack down on illegal activity in the lettings market, tenants will have more protection and the standards of the rental sector will be raised.”
He continues, “An environment where exploitative landlords are stamped out will enable good landlords and letting agents to thrive. The Guild has a very strict Code of Conduct to ensure its Members provide a full regulatory service to both landlords and tenants. We also provide Trading Standards* approved training on all lettings legislation to our Members to ensure they are aware of their legal responsibilities. As part of The Guild’s commitment to increasing industry standards and ensuring that our Members are compliant, we also regularly undertake due diligence checks. As an organisation, we strive to ensure that our Members are seen as the professionals they are, so we welcome any Government initiative which will assist in weeding out those who are tarnishing the property industry,” Offley concludes.
According to the press release, the funding will help councils take on the most common challenges that stand in the way of tackling poor standards in the private rented sector, including:
- encouraging positive landlord/tenant/local authority relationships, particularly with vulnerable groups such as care leavers
- the need for better information – on housing stock, and on landlords and agents operating in their areas
- data sharing between authorities and agencies – identifying and bringing together different data sets to enable better enforcement targeting which protects the most vulnerable tenants
- internal ‘ways of working’ – improving housing-specific legal expertise, in-house communication between teams, and tools and strategies to effectively implement policy
innovative software – for enforcement officers to record their findings, gather evidence and streamline the enforcement process