Councils across England have cut the amount that they are spending on dealing with criminal landlords by a quarter compared with 2009/10, the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has found.
According to analysis by the organisation, while spending by local authorities in England on housing standard activities was £44.5m in 2009/10, by 2017/18, that had fallen to £33.5m – a drop of £11m.
With over 150 Acts of Parliament containing more than 400 regulations governing the private rental sector, the RLA argues that better enforcement of these laws, backed up by greater funding, is key to driving out the minority of landlords who can make life a misery for tenants and bring the industry into disrepute.
While the Government has recently made £2m available for councils to support efforts to tackle problem landlords, the RLA does not believe that one-off pots of money provide the certainty for councils to be able to plan long-term enforcement action.
New civil penalty powers enable councils to keep the proceeds of fines levied on criminal landlords and use this money for further enforcement. The problem is that councils don’t have the resources to kickstart the process by taking action against rogue landlords that then leads to fines generating funding for further action, the RLA says.
It is calling on the Government to provide in the forthcoming Spending Review a multi-year funding package to support initial enforcement action.
John Stewart, the Policy Manager at the RLA, insists: “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 substandard 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.”