Additional council funding of over £4 million, to stop rogue landlords from preying on vulnerable tenants, have been confirmed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
The money, which will be shared among 100 councils throughout the country, will be used to enforce legal actions against property owners who break the law and to inform tenants of their rights.
What the government thinks of rogue landlords
On the issue of property owners breaking the law, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick states that, “This government will deliver a better deal for renters. 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.”
The extent of the problem
Unscrupulous property owners have been preying on powerless tenants, who are often migrants, some of whom are in the country illegally, cramming them in overcrowded and badly maintained lodgings. There are also reports that outbuildings have been converted into dwellings resulting to excessive waste which can cause problems in the community.
The announcement however was met with mixed reactions.
In as much as the move is highly appreciated, the amount is deemed insufficient and inconsistent.
From David Smith, policy director of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA):
“We welcome the government’s focus on rooting out criminal landlords. For too long the debate has been driven by ideological calls for more regulation of the sector. What is needed is better enforcement of the powers already available to root out the minority who bring the sector into disrepute. Today’s funding is 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.
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.”
Chris Norris, Director of Policy and Practice at the National Landlords Association (NLA) says:
“We welcome the news that more funding will be made available for councils in England to crack down on landlords who break the law and provide inadequate services to tenants. While an overwhelming majority of landlords provide an excellent service to their tenants, it is important that the government makes a stand against criminals operating in the private rented sector.
However, this one-time handout is wholly insufficient in contrast to the long-term issues facing authorities burdened by ever more legislation of increasing complexity. The offer of just over £4 million to be spread across around 100 of the 343 local authorities – an average of less than £40,000 per council – is simply not enough.
Good landlords want to see fair enforcement and local authorities need far more substantial and consistent support and funding to be able to enforce properly in the PRS and rid the sector of the criminals operating within it.”