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Pathetic! Councils blasted for failure to prosecute rogue landlords

A lettings sector trade body is blasting local authorities for their poor record on trying to eliminate rogue landlords.

The National Residential Landlords Association says two thirds of English councils have prosecuted no landlords for offences related to standards in, or the management of, private rented housing over the past three years.

The association is warning that this failure to take action against the criminal minority brings the sector into disrepute and risks undermining further reform of the sector.


The NRLA obtained the data via Freedom of Information Act requests from 283 local authorities across England. 

In the three years between 2018/2019 and 2020/21, 67 per cent had not successfully prosecuted a landlord for offences related to standards in or the management of private rented housing. 

A further 10 per cent had secured just one successful prosecution.

Overall, just 20 local authorities were responsible for 77 per cent of all successful prosecutions. 

The three local authorities with the highest number of prosecutions - Southwark in London, Birmingham and Hull - were responsible for 38 per cent of all such action across England. Of these, Birmingham and Hull had no local landlord licencing scheme in place.

Among those councils responding, just 937 successful prosecutions of criminal landlords had taken place over the past three years. This is despite government estimates in 2015 that there may be around 10,500 rogue landlords operating at that time.

The new data follows research published earlier this year by the NRLA which showed that over the same three years, 53 per cent of English councils had issued no civil penalties against private landlords.

The NRLA is now warning that whilst the government has pledged to publish a White Paper on reform of the private rented sector next year, a failure to enforce the wide range of powers already available to tackle criminal and rogue landlords will critically undermine further reform.

The NRLA is calling on the government to provide councils with the multi-year funding needed to ensure they are properly resourced to take action against criminal landlords. 

According to research by the charity Unchecked UK, the amount spent on housing standards by local authorities in England fell by 45 per cent between 2009 and 2019.

This must, the NRLA argues, happen alongside a requirement for councils to publish details of formal and informal enforcement activity against private landlords on an annual basis. This is vital to ensuring that they can be held to account for efforts to tackle criminal and rogue landlords.

NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle says: “The vast majority of responsible landlords are sick and tired of a failure to root out the minority who bring the sector into disrepute. The problem is not a lack of powers, but a failure by councils to enforce them properly.

“Whilst ensuring councils have the resources they need is vital, so too is the need for them to be more transparent about the levels of enforcement they are taking. 

“In short, local authorities need to prioritise activity to find and root out criminal landlords, ensuring it is they who meet the costs of such efforts.

“Our research illustrates also that there is no clear link between the existence of a landlord licensing scheme and levels of prosecutions. Councils again need to be open with tenants and landlords about how such schemes are ensuring standards are met in rental housing.”

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    There is a clear link between licensing & rent increases!


    Any increase in costs = rent increases, just think about the rent increases coming in 2025 and the shortage in rental properties by then


    Agreed, but I think the wiser landlords are already quietly getting on with disposing of those properties that will never reach EPC C. Already a shortage here but not sure that they've joined the dots yet ... they're not very bright!!

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    I admit how wrong I am about the NRLA. I thought it was an organisation for landlords. Had no idea until I read this it was a subsidiary brand of another well known profitable organisation known as Shelter.

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    But the biggest percentage of rogue landlords renting unsafe housing lays with councils and their friends the housing associations, they are hardly going to prosecute themselves or their friends are they ?


    Spot on!
    There are No prosecutions for Housing Associations CEO’s or Councils as yet for making tenants live in unsafe clad homes.
    Councils are protecting the Housing associations senior management, and charging the tenants higher rents to cover the cost of cladding!

    Clearly NRLA exist to support these rogue Councils and Housing Associations instead of protecting PRS small honest landlords who provide safe homes even to rogue tenants to reduce homelessness.

    Shared ownership social tenants on low incomes are expected to pay multi billions for the Council & Housing Associations to keep them in unsafe fire 🔥 hazard homes, or lose their homes to live on streets as they clearly can’t afford full rents.
    Letting sector trade body and NRLA need to get their facts right before going after PRS LL’s - prosecutors need to go after the Heads of Councils, and Housing Association’s CEO’s & Board investigating their & family’s PRS portfolio & sending warrants of arrests to their homes, instead of office addresses.
    This process if managed quietly & executed quickly similar to National Crime Agency raids-might just immediately smoke out the rats in Councils/Social Housing organisations/Shelter et all, as well as from the ministerial benches of All parties & House of Lords.

    Best wishes to All good PRS landlords and tenants.

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    Whose prosecuting the Councils!!


    No-one!! ITV's Daniel Hewitt report should be required watching for any policy maker before they start bashing the PRS. Any PRS landlord would be flung in jail if they inflicted those conditions in tenants, yet housing associations and councils get away with it all the time

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    NRLA are not a Lettings sector trade body - they're supposed to be a landlord Association but have long gone limp-wristed.
    Councils are more interested in Civil Penalties that the government have allowed them to keep in leiu of providing funding.

    Mark Hulbert

    Absolutely - the grossly excessive Civil Penalties, for minor paperwork infringements unrelated to safety, need to be curtailed. You could drive without a licence and wouldn't get fined anywhere near the range £20k to £300k. Landlords clearly should not be abused to fund the entire council.

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    Ben beadle up for a knighthood? Glad I pulled out of it. Shcockingly they onlty account for a small % of the PRS.. They really should be calling for a register of Rogue Tenants


    10% of the PRS I believe.

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    All the prosecutions I have looked at and I have looked at a lot and I feel more for the landlords than the tenants. A typical example is a inefficient landlady prosecuted for being slow carrying out repairs. The repairs mainly caused by the tenants bad behaviour.

    A long and expensive prosecution is undertaken when the issue could quickly be solved by the council undertaking the work and charging the landlord. The punishment being the excessive cost of council repairs if punishment is merited but is it? Should not the council help the landlord and charge the tenant for the damage the tenant caused? The government talks about creating financial responsibility and insists in paying UC to the least responsible which harms landlords but expects landlords to clean up after irresponsible tenants.

    There may be cases where prosecutions or civil penalties are justified but I have not seen any. Has anyone? Technical breaches of legislation which are of little risk to tenants does not in my opinion justify prosecution. Licensing is a joke just law to enable councils to prosecuted landlords not only for not being licensed but all the licence conditions that the council's add to the licence.

    Jim Haliburton
    The HMO Daddy


    Certainly the rent repayment orders often seem extremely punitive. If there is no loss to the tenant then by all means fine the LL but RROs encourage tenants to look for faults. It also encourages the adversarial approach to the PRS when we should all be working together.

  • George Dawes

    I think you put the exclamation mark in the wrong place

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    NRLA accounts for a claimed 85k members. PRS I understand 4.5 m. What are your figures?


    On their website - 90k members and 10% of the PRS.

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    ffs--just who do nrla claim to represent--i would leave if i were still a member

  • George Dawes

    Remind me of the fsb , toothless and pointless

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    Their figures of 90k, what do you see as the size of the PRS ? NRLA are suggesting 900k on your figures. Even so, 10% is very small for a trade body that speaks to tthe government. I have noticed that there are a few local landlord bodies that seem good.


    Not my figures - theirs! I'm not even a member!!


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