Law News

Extra funding provided to local councils to help enforce legislation

Em Morley - January 20, 2020

Local authorities have received several funding boosts over the last few years, allowing them to become better equipped to tackle the enforcement of lettings legislation, says PayProp.

The lettings payment automation provider believes that this increase in funds to train more enforcement officers could lead to more penalties being issued. This includes banning orders for the worst offenders. Since the introduction of such orders, they have so far been used sparingly.

Latest funding could boost compliance

It was earlier this month that an additional £4 million was announced for 100 local councils to help combat rogue landlords and letting agencies. This will include training over 100 enforcement officers across Yorkshire and Humberside, as well as creating a Special Operations Unit in Northampton.

The funding will also be used to help vulnerable young tenants in Thurrock, Essex, and to trial new technology that will identify particularly cold homes in Greenwich.

“The standout measure here is the money being used to train over 100 new enforcement officers in the North of England,” says Neil Cobbold, Chief Operating Officer of PayProp UK.

“One of the biggest issues in the rental sector in recent years is the lack of enforcement of a rising number of regulations aimed at improving industry standards.

“More enforcement officers across the country would significantly help to increase compliance, meeting the government’s goal of raising standards and discouraging rogue operators,” he says.

Over £10m committed to rogue landlord funds in the past year

The government has committed to providing over £10m in local authority funding over the last 12 months to combat criminal landlords and agencies.

On top of the funding boost received this month, almost £2.4m was provided to 50 local councils in January 2019. A further £3.8m was issued in November last year.

“Industry insiders have often criticised the government for not providing enough funding for enforcement, but an increased amount has been pledged in the last 12 months,” says Cobbold.

“If used properly this funding could benefit letting agencies by ridding the industry of those intent on breaking the law and helping to improve its reputation with the public.”

Could more banning orders be issued in 2020?

 Cobbold has suggested that if this additional funding from the Government is used to enforce legislation more effectively, one main result could be an increase in the number of penalties issued.

Banning orders were introduced in April 2018, but it wasn’t until September 2019 that the first one was issued. Only a few more have been handed out since.

Introduced as part of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 and alongside the database of rogue landlords and property agents, banning orders are ordered by a First-Tier Tribunal and follow local housing authority application.

Receiving a banning order is a criminal offence and prohibits landlords or agents from letting housing in England and engaging in English letting agency or property management work.

“Banning orders are only reserved for the very worst offenders. We may see a number of penalty options used, but local authorities that do increase enforcement will show that they are serious about raising industry standards,” says Cobbold.

“With further legislation changes expected throughout this year, it’s important that the authorities do everything they can with the additional funding to ensure widespread compliance,” he concludes.