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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Councils significantly reduce action against rogue landlords

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.”

Poll: Do you agree that local authorities should be given the funds needed to properly enforce the wide range of powers they already have to tackle sub-standard housing and criminal behaviour?

PLACE YOUR VOTE BELOW

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    Councils have a problem here, in the main it is the rogue landlords that house the rogue tenants, the council should put closing orders on sub standard accommodation, however if they do so they make the tenants homeless, good landlords with good properties aren't going to take on these rogue tenants so the problem comes to rest with the council, therefore councils are reluctant to take action.

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    rouge=red

     
  •  G romit

    Lack of enforcement just plays into the hands of rogue Landlords as who can undercut good Landlords by not incurring the costs that obeying these regulations entail. The long term consequences are that the market polarises into high end properties which are compliant but very expensive, and the low end with just rogue Landlords having driven the good Landlords out of the market.

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    But the problem is that councils will use the powers to hit the soft targets, landlords that have made genuine mistakes or do not even realise that they've broken rules. Councils aren't necessarily that interested in improving standards but they are interested in improving revenue.

     
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    I'm sure it will be more beneficial for the country to register all landlords at a national level via the HMRC Self Assessment process, issuing them with a license to trade as a Landlord. It would then be a matter of Agents, DWP (housing benefit claims) and possibly tenants to check the Landlord is valid. (Hire car companies can check the DVLC for points on driving license, so why shouldn't you be able to check up on a Landlord?). Central government then has the responsibly to manage the process from a top and down to the individual, and the local government will then have to focus on the enforcement of the law when records aren't in place and landlords don't play by the rules.

    Paul Barrett

    The reason for what you suggest which seems perfectly acceptable won't work is that such a licencing system would result in literally millions of homeless tenants.
    Think of all those tenants who are letting illegally from residential homeowners who do not have Consent To Let and certaily don't report their lettings to HMRC.
    Then you have a the LL letting to DSS tenants in breach of their BTL mortgage conditions.
    Then you have the LL letting to the 2 million illegal immigrants.
    Then you have those LL that are overcrowding their properties breaching mortgage and insurance conditions.
    When you actually work it out a good percentage of private letting in the UK is actually ILLEGAL!!
    The last thing Councils or Govt want to detect is all these illegal lettings.
    It would be for the Councils to house all the tenants they have made homeless from the illegal lettings.
    There would also be a run on the banks as property prices crashed from all the illegal rented properties as tenants wouldn't be permitted to rent them.
    No Govt in its right mind wants to know where all the illegal lettings are.
    It would crash the UK economy!!

     
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    but residential letting is not a trade or business

     
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    With regards to funding, I pay £540 per property for selective licensing and nearly £1000 for an HMO licence. In 3 years there has been no contact from the Council either to inspect or make further queries on. Where is this money being spent on? My Council has an extremely dubious past re cronyism and back handers. Us licence payers do not even have any information on where the monies have been spent or the success rates of prosecuting rogue landlords. Money for old rope?

    John Cart

    Its paying their bloated salaries and their ridiculous pension scheme, you know, the one that no one in the private sector can afford because the councils are constantly thieving from Council Tax payers and now Licence payers to be able to make the enormous contributions needed to keep these pension schemes afloat.

     
  • Paul Barrett

    I would suggest even old rope isn't being bought!!
    I can assure you that your licence fee might aswell be called a council tax surcharge cos all your licence fees go into the Council tax pot and is spent on other things than anything to do with letting.
    It is just a way of councils raising additional Council tax.
    LL are an easy target to tap!!
    Expect to be tapped a lot more!!

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    pensions need topping-up!

     
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    "The RLA is calling on the government to provide in the forthcoming Spending Review a multi-year funding package to support initial enforcement action."
    A clear indication thet the RLA does not represent the interests of landlords.

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    leave rla and nla--they seem to encourage govt action to lls detriment

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    We have the totally ineffective Rent Smart Wales debacle down here.
    The only landlords registered are the ones that were legitimate before the regulations came in.
    They are also 'flexing their muscles' over introducing new rules to make our lives even more unbearable, whilst the Council and Housing Associations are exempt.
    They are obviously allowed to rent out sub-standard properties with impunity.
    I see a lot off instances in my local paper where there have been damp issues with properties serviced by these organisations and tenants have been waiting months for any action to be taken without result
    If this situation arose with one of my properties, the tenant would be on the line to RSW if I decided to ignore it.

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    one rule for us, another for them

     
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    Its purely a Lack of Leadership, Management and Accountabilty by MHCLG - as there ARE some Councils who are enforcing but very very few who have implemented the Civil penalties of the Housing and Planning Act to recoup funds from the very few deserving criminal landlords.
    You'd think MHCLG would even be curious enough to just ASK L.A's why they're not using Civil penalties, let alone hold them to account.
    There isn't even any publicity of LA performance on Housing, it takes the RLA ( to be fair ) to ascertain this from FOI's
    Govt too embarassed to publish statistics !

  • Paul Barrett

    Most good LL have no problem with rogue ones being caught out.
    Trouble is there are degrees of rogueness.
    Should LL who have otherwise immaculate properties but who are letting in breach of their mortgage conditions be considered for onerous sanctions the same as a LL packing them into the rafters with no HMO licence etc.
    I believe it should be those LL that are most rogue that should be tackled first.
    Of course I totally resent the unfair competition from such LL that breach their mortgage and insurance conditions but otherwise provide decent letting accommodation.
    It doesn't seem morally right that these low hanging fruit should be gone after first when there are far more actual criminal LL out there that need their ill-gotten gains removing under the POCA!!
    Just dealing with that lot will keep councils busy for the next 50 years!!
    But I fear that these type of LL will be left alone to iperate unhindered pretty much as they have always done.
    Criminal LL are not running scared.
    What is needed is a few high profile cases where criminal LL are prosecuted and lose everything.
    Only that will motivate criminal LL to change their MO.
    This on the basis that it is pretty pointless being a criminal LL if every so often the State comes along and strips you of all your criminal proceeds.
    There is a definite HMRC input required here aswell.
    After all that is how they got Al Capone.
    A man who chose not to pay tax!
    Not a wise move.
    It was ultimately the death of him.

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    Trouble very often starts with a rogue tenant. As soon as the landlord tries to sort that out they become a rogue landlord because the they are charging the tenant for things like damage caused by unreported water leaks or excess humidity from room drying clothes without ventilation. The problem is then exasperated by an inspector who has little real ability about inspecting a property beyond chanting out one of about fifty standard phrases and excuses in the hope that one of them will fit the occasion.

    Paul Barrett

    That is why it is pretty pointless owning a property which is prone to mould etc if tenants refuse to heat and ventilate a property
    correctly.
    LL will ALWAYS been seen to be in the wrong.
    Tenants as you well know are as pure as the driven snow and can do no wrong!!!
    The problem now is that mould or condensation can be very subjective.
    The Council will ALWAYS side with the tenant.
    This could mean massive legal costs and fines for the LL.
    Consequently it is pretty pointless letting the sort of property which attracts the sort of tenant who refuses to heat the property properly and to ventilate properly on a daily basis.
    It is reckoned that the air in a property should be changed once per day to remove the risk of mould etc.
    Few tenants in the lower socio-economic levels will live in a property correctly.
    It is generally not their fault.
    But now the LL could suffer mightily because of a tenant's domestic financial difficulties.
    LL would do better to sell off these dud properties where mould etc is prevalent because of tenant lifestyle issues.
    If a property is not currently EPC C status then most LL would do well to get rid of these dud properties.
    It simply is not worth the risk of letting to tenants who because of economic circumstances refuse to behave in a tenant like manner and that includes heating and ventilating a property adequately at the same time.
    Tenants won't do this and therefore this leaves LL on the hook.
    Few LL will wish to risk being put out of business by poor tenant lifestyle.
    Such LL will take a pragmatic view and choose to sell off these dud properties and invest in ones that attract tenants who will behave and heat their properties adequately.

     
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