Local authorities across England are spending significantly less on dealing with rogue landlords than in 2009-10, new research shows.
According to Residential Landlords Association (RLA), councils spent £44.5m on housing standard activities, but government figures show this has dropped to £33.5m.
With more than 150 Acts of Parliament containing over 400 regulations affecting the private rented sector, the RLA is arguing that better enforcement of these laws, backed up by greater funding, is needed to clampdown on unscrupulous landlords.
The government recently made £2m available for councils to support efforts to tackle problem landlords, but the RLA does that this is a sufficient amount of money for councils to be able to plan long term for enforcement action.
New civil penalty powers enable councils to keep the proceeds of fines levied on landlords who are breaking the law and use this money for further enforcement. The problem the RLA says is that councils don’t have the resources to kick start the process by taking the action against criminal landlords that then leads to fines generating funding for further action.
The RLA is calling on the government to provide in the forthcoming Spending Review a multi-year funding package to support initial enforcement action.
John Stewart, policy manager for the RLA, said: “Criminal landlords undermine the reputation of the decent majority, cause tenants to suffer and have no place in the sector.
“Local authorities must have the funds they need to properly enforce the wide range of powers they already have to tackle sub-standard housing and criminal behaviour. Our analysis shows that for all the warm words, councils are in desperate need of new funding to ensure this happens.
“The government should use the Spending Review to address this as a matter of urgency.”