Unscrupulous landlords are providing vulnerable tenants with substandard housing and getting away with it due to low levels of enforcement of rented housing regulations by local authorities, according to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).
The trade body is now calling for tenants to be given greater protection from rogue landlords after Freedom of Information data found that only 827 prosecutions across 255 councils nationwide had been taken out against landlords over the last five years following notices to improve a property being issued.
But the RLA insists that private landlords do not need more regulation, but rather proper enforcement of the existing rules, with more than 140 Acts of Parliament containing over 400 regulations currently affecting the private rented sector, including the latest controls introduced as part of the Housing and Planning Bill which was approved by MPs this week.
The RLA want to see far-reaching changes to the way regulations are enforced, enabling the most decent landlords to be regulated by tough industry-run schemes, freeing councils to find and punish the criminals who are often preying on vulnerable tenants.
Alan Ward, chairman of the RLA, said: “Tenants and good landlords are being let down by a system unable to cope with the powers already available to root out the crooks.
“Unsafe and insanitary housing has no place in the 21st century – those responsible put the lives of their tenants in jeopardy. It angers the majority of decent landlords who enjoy good relations with their tenants.
“Rather than tinkering around the edges we need a radical overhaul of the way the sector is regulated, freeing councils to find the crooks. The message should be clear to those renting out substandard housing – get it sorted or face the full force of the law.”