Close to £2.4m of additional funding designed to clampdown on unscrupulous landlords will be made available for more than 50 councils across the country to share, the housing minister Heather Wheeler announced yesterday.
The government accepts that the vast majority of landlords provide decent homes for their tenants, but it insists that the funds will enable local councils to step up action against the small minority who continue to flout the law and force vulnerable tenants such as young families to live in inadequate or unsafe housing.
Various councils will benefit from the funding, including Walsall, which will look to improve cross-agency enforcement work, including the innovative use of drones and thermal mapping to identify problem properties.
Lancaster plans to create a training programme for existing enforcement staff across the Lancashire region.
Meanwhile, the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) have been allocated over £330,000 between them to carry out coordinated work to tackle rogue landlords who operate across multiple local authorities in their regions.
Wheeler commented: “Everyone has the right to live in a home that is safe and secure, and it is vital we crack down on the small minority of landlords who are not giving their tenants this security.
“This extra funding will further boost councils’ ability to root out rogue landlords and ensure that poor-quality homes in the area are improved, making the housing market fairer for everyone.”
The government has already equipped local authorities with strong powers to tackle criminal landlords, ranging from fines to outright bans for the worst offenders.
The new funding will be used to support a range of projects that councils have said will help them to ramp up action against criminal landlords.
Councils may also decide to support tenants to take action against poor standards through rent repayment orders, or develop digital solutions, helping officers to report back and make decisions quicker.
Councils that receive funding will be encouraged to share best practice and examples of innovative approaches, to help improve enforcement in other areas.
Cllr Judith Blake, housing spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “The vast majority of landlords are responsible and provide decent housing for their tenants, however the reputations of that majority are being tarnished by the small minority of landlords who exploit loopholes with no regard to their responsibilities.
“Councils want to support a good quality local private rented offer in their communities, but can be held back by significant funding pressures and uncertainty. It is therefore good that the Government has announced a funding boost for councils to help ensure the small minority of rogue landlords improve standards.
“We ask that the government now follows this announcement by granting more freedom for councils to establish local licensing schemes.”