Buy-to-let landlords are “getting away with murder” according to Advice4Renters, after new figures revealed that just two out of almost 2,000 complaints were prosecuted in Hull last year.
The data, obtained by Hull Live from Freedom of Information requests made by the Residential Landlords Association, shows that a total of 1,935 complaints were made to Hull Council against rogue landlords in 2017/18, but the data reveals the council decided to prosecute just two of them.
Local councils were given the power by the government in April last year to take action against unscrupulous landlords who broke the rules by prosecuting them, but little has changed since the rules were introduced, according to Jacky Peacock, director at Advice4Renters.
He said: “Landlords know that they can get away with treating tenants like this because so few tenants actually know their rights.
“The whole thing is just a mess. Councils are reluctant to go against private landlords because in most in most areas there is a homelessness problem, so there is a real conflict because councils often house homeless people in these properties.
“It sends the message that landlords can get away with murder. Landlords are breaking the law and they know they are.”
There were 91 improvement notices issued to private landlords in Hull for what are known as category 1 and category 2 hazards.
The council also issued four prohibition orders to private landlords in 2017/18 - this restricts the use of part or all of the property and can also place a limit on the number of people living there.
David Smith, RLA policy director, told the press: “These results show that for all the publicity around bad landlords, a large part of the fault lies with councils who are failing to use the wide range of powers they already have.
“Too many local authorities fall back on licensing schemes which, as this report proves, actually achieve very little except to add to the costs of the responsible landlords who register.
“Instead of policing licensing schemes, councils need to focus on finding and taking action criminal landlords.”
Hull City Council insists that it uses a wide range of methods to ensure private rented accommodation is “safe and suitable to live in”.
A spokesman said: “In April 2018 the council approved its Private Housing Enforcement Policy which would see more formal action being taken in relation to poor housing conditions.
“The Humber Landlords Association have objected to this policy, seeking to prevent its introduction, and have taken the matter to Judicial Review. This will be heard next month. In light of this it would not be appropriate for the council to comment further.”