Councils share £2.4m fund to tackle rogue landlords

THE Government has offered councils a share of an extra £2.4 million of funding to help them crack down on rogue landlords.

Over 50 local and combined authorities across the country are to receive a share of the money, including the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Lancaster council.

The cash boost is intended to enable local councils to step up action against the minority of rogues who flout the law and force vulnerable tenants, such as young families, to live in inadequate or unsafe housing.

“Everyone has the right to live in a home that is safe and secure, and it is vital we crack down on the small minority of landlords who are not giving their tenants this security,” said housing minister, Heather Wheeler MP.

“This extra funding will further boost councils’ ability to root out rogue landlords and ensure that poor-quality homes in the area are improved, making the housing market fairer for everyone.”

The new funding will be used to support a range of projects that councils have said will help them to ramp up action, such as building relationships with external organisations like the emergency services, legal services and local housing advocates.

Councils may also decide to support tenants to take action against poor standards through rent repayment orders, or develop digital solutions, helping officers to report back and make decisions quicker, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said.

Councils that receive funding will also be encouraged to share best practice and examples of innovative approaches, to help improve enforcement in other areas, it added.

The fund will help councils to take on the “most common challenges that stand in the way of tackling poor standards” in the private rented sector. These include:

  • The need for better information on housing stock and on landlords and agents operating in their areas
  • Data sharing between authorities and agencies, identifying and bringing together different data sets to enable better enforcement targeting
  • Internal ‘ways of working’ to improve housing-specific legal expertise, in-house communication between teams, and tools and strategies to effectively implement policy
  • Innovative software for enforcement officers to record their findings, gather evidence and streamline the enforcement process

In response to the funding announcement, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesperson, Councillor Judith Blake welcomed the cash, but called for more freedoms to tackle rogue landlords through licensing.

“The vast majority of landlords are responsible and provide decent housing for their tenants, however the reputations of that majority are being tarnished by the small minority of landlords who exploit loopholes with no regard to their responsibilities,” she said.

“Councils want to support a good quality local private rented offer in their communities, but can be held back by significant funding pressures and uncertainty. It is therefore good that the Government has announced a funding boost for councils to help ensure the small minority of rogue landlords improve standards.

“We ask that the Government now follows this announcement by granting more freedom for councils to establish local licensing schemes.”

NH

 

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