West Suffolk councils have agreed to clamp down on dodgy landlords by adopting new powers to tackle them, following a joint cabinet meeting of Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury this week.
The councils want to deter rogue private landlords who have unscrupulously left private tenants living in appalling conditions from operating in West Suffolk, but it has been acknowledged that the vast majority of West Suffolk landlords provide a great service.
“West Suffolk landlords are in the main excellent, providing decent, well maintained homes and we are keen to work with and support them,” said Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, lead member for housing for both Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury.
At Monday’s council meeting councillors agreed to begin consultation and engagement on new enforcement routes, available via the Housing and Planning Act 2016, that will enable the authorities to fine people, issue rent repayment orders and banning orders as an alternative to taking a prosecution.
Cllr Mildmay-White added: “[There are] a small minority of irresponsible rogue landlords who knowingly rent out accommodation that is unlicensed, substandard and/or unsafe and for whom the current sanctions are not a sufficient deterrent.”
The councillor also believes that tenants have an important role to play in terms of knowing their rights and working with their landlords.
She added: “We are developing this policy with local landlords, tenants and interest groups including neighbouring councils and the Landlords Association. It is important that we understand the issues and raise awareness of the role of the Public Health and Housing Service.
“The councils work closely with partner services and organisations to support the needs of the vulnerable people in their homes, and to protect the wider community and there will be consultation direct with key groups on a proportionate fine structure dependent on the severity of non-compliance with the offences.”