A new survey shows how few local authorities in England have issued civil penalties against rogue or criminal landlords in the last 3 years.
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has found that between 2018/19 and 2020/21, only 130 local authorities in England out of 275 replying to the survey (47%) had issued any civil penalties. Most had used only a handful, with 71% of all civil penalties issued by just 7% of the local authorities.
This is despite councils in England having the option to issue civil penalties of up to £30,000 for a range of housing offences since April 2017. This income can be re-invested by local authorities to help finance further enforcement against criminal operators who cause harm to tenants and give private renting a bad name, the NRLA points out.
As a result of the NRLA’s Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, it also found 40% of councils that had issued civil penalties had issued between just one and five over the past three years.
In total, fewer than 3,200 civil penalties were issued over the last three years by the local authorities responding to the survey. This is despite Ministers suggesting during the passage of the legislation to introduce them that there may be 10,500 rogue landlords in operation.
Chris Norris, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the NRLA, comments: “Our findings show that most councils are failing to use all the tools available to them to tackle rogue and criminal landlords.
“By failing to apply appropriate sanctions to punish wrongdoing, councils are weakening the principle of deterrence which underpins the civil penalties regime.
“We are calling on all councils to ensure they are making full and proper use of the powers they have to tackle those landlords who cause misery to tenants and bring the sector into disrepute.
“The Government’s plans to reform the private rented sector due later this year will mean nothing if changes are not properly enforced.”