Radical action is needed to protect tenants from rogue landlords, insists the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).
The call comes after data received through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request indicates a worryingly low level of enforcement of rental housing regulations by local authorities.
Radical Action Needed to Protect Tenants from Rogue Landlords, Says RLA
The data, collected by the RLA, from the 255 councils that responded, suggests that just 827 prosecutions have been made against landlords over the last five years, following improvement notices being served.
The RLA does not believe that so few landlords have breached their legal obligations over this timeframe. Research shows that there are over 140 Acts of Parliament containing more than 400 regulations affecting the private rental sector.
The data received through the FOI request stands in stark contrast to figures from the London Borough of Newham, which has published a study stating that since January 2013, it has undertaken 779 prosecutions of landlords alone. The council did not respond to the FOI request.
Since 2013, the council has worked closely with the police, HM Revenue & Customs and the UK Border Agency to use the wide range of powers already available to tackle rogue landlords. It has conducted numerous high profile raids of properties that are substandard or overcrowded.
The RLA is now calling for a radical national overhaul of the way that regulations are enforced, enabling the majority of good landlords to be regulated by robust industry-run schemes, which would free councils to find and punish the rogues who often target vulnerable tenants.
The Chairman of the RLA, Alan Ward, says: “Tenants and good landlords are being let down by a system unable to cope with the powers already available to root out the crooks.
“Unsafe and unsanitary housing has no place in the 21st century – those responsible put the lives of their tenants in jeopardy. It angers the majority of decent landlords who enjoy good relations with their tenants.”
He continues: “Newham Council shows that with the will and resources, councils already have the powers needed to protect tenants from bad landlords.
“Rather than tinkering around the edges, we need a radical overhaul of the way the sector is regulated, freeing councils to find the crooks. The message should be clear to those renting out substandard housing: get it sorted or face the full force of the law.”
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