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Councils accused of inadequately policing private rental sector

Almost 60 per cent of councils across Britain have not prosecuted any landlord for any offence in the past year according to figures uncovered by a Liberal Democrat MP.

Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, used the Freedom of Information Act to reveal that in addition to the majority of councils not prosecuting any rogue landlord in the past 12 months, more than 80 per cent prosecuted fewer than five.

Around 30 per cent of councils admitted to conducting fewer than 100 inspections in their area in the last year. 


A major exception was the London borough of Newham, which though its madatory licensing scheme and substantial resources for policing the issue, prosecuted 331 landlords. 

Brent council was second in the league table with 65 prosecutions followed by Waltham Forest with 58, Doncaster with 49, Barking and Dagenham with 35, and Wirral with 29. 

“These figures expose a stark postcode lottery when it comes to tackling rogue landlords. Thousands of tenants across the country are having to endure horrendous and unsafe living conditions, while unscrupulous landlords are breaking the rules with impunity” Hobhouse told The Guardian newspaper.

“Cash-strapped councils need more funding to inspect rented homes and bring rogue landlords to justice. Tenants should also be able to check whether their landlords have previously broken the rules through a public database. Rogue landlords have been allowed to exploit the housing crisis for too long. It’s time the government stopped dragging its feet and clamped down on them.”

Poll: Are local authorities doing a bad job in policing the PRS?


  • jeremy clarke

    I know, said a voice from a darkened room in Westminster, let's give councils more legislation rather than less. That way we as government can say "we've done our bit, it's local councils who are failing".

    Suzy OShea

    And said the voice from the darkened room in Westmonster, whilst we overload councils with all these rules let's cut their resources so that they don't have the money to implement them properly, so that will protect all of our MPs who are also private landlords.

  • icon

    When I have an empty flat it is redecorated, safety checked and repaired. At that point I am a good landlord and a tenant is moved in by my agent on a full letting contract.

    Five years later, when the wear and tear clauses run out, the tenant ups and leaves. This, usually with unpaid bills. I go to the flat and it is filthy, badly damaged in many ways and has unrepaired safety issues which which have not been reported or found by inspection. Technically I am then a rogue landlord. Factually, I am bloody furious but what the heck, I supposedly have a business which makes untold and never ending profits so what have I got to care about?

    When I have an empty flat it is redecorated, safety checked and repaired. At that point I am a good landlord and a tenant is moved in by my agent on a full letting contract.

    round and round we go etc.

    Tenants are no more angels than landlords. Our laws must consider this.

  • S l
    • S l
    • 04 May 2019 14:07 PM

    I completely agree with you, Laurence. In fact, mine is on a 12 months rental and they still managed to trash it and caused extensive mould issues to the extend that the wallpaper fall off the wall and more mould behind it. Even check in inventories and check out inventories does not make a difference as tds and mydeposit would favour the tenants considering that we had complied with every improvement notice including all ventilation issues and having to change to upvc windows and doors to enable ventilation with a small opening which can be locked. The issues is not the lacking of suing landlords. Its the lack of suing tenants, rogue tenants who cry to the council when they are the culprit causing the huge issues in the house.We then are deemed the rogue landlord with inhabitable housing taking advantage of the tenants. i have been making losses due to these rogue tenants year after year and still have hmrc chasing me for tax return and penalties despite losses

  • Suzy OShea

    What a terrible situation! And if tenants are paying their own utilities bills they won't open windows and won't heat adequately so mould develops. That's why I charge a higher rent and include utility bills to make sure that the place is properly heated and ventilated.

    S l
    • S l
    • 04 May 2019 14:49 PM

    unfortunately, when we includes bills, they left all electricity eg lights etc etc and heating on all day and all night even when they are out with bills running into thousands of pounds. Lessons learned. never again. Yet when they are liable for the bills, they either dont pay and run off or put our name on it and we dont find out until the excessive bills arrive owing thousands of pounds.

  • Suzy OShea

    That is a risk which i combat in two ways: by placing a monthly limit on the amount of utilities for which I pay, £40 per month, per room, which is more than adequate to cover heating costs. Nonetheless, it makes them aware and they waste less energy! I am also blessed with the services of a wonderful 'house angel' who pops in daily to make sure everything is clean and tidy and no one is heating for the world. its an added cost but its worth it for the damage it prevents and other savings.

    S l
    • S l
    • 04 May 2019 15:28 PM

    unfortunately, my tenants claimed that they had no peaceful usage of the premises becauase i came to do inspection once every two months. Imagine all hell will break lose if i so much as have someone come in regularly. Its a no win situation for LL with rogue tenants.

  • Suzy OShea

    It depends what you put in the contract. I think perhaps it is more difficult for you because you are letting out single units or flats. mine is an HMO and all the tenants welcomed the fact that the house was regularly cleaned more often than once a week.

    However, as I said, if you include it as a regular weekly service and it is stipulated that they will provide unimpeded access to your weekly cleaner, provided that she comes at a regular time, no one can object to this and if they do well then you already know their quality and can head off future trouble by refusing to take them into you flat.

    S l
    • S l
    • 04 May 2019 16:29 PM

    Did that previous years as thats the thing to do in those days, got stung each and every group of tenants. Hence i stopped inclusive of gas elec and water only to find that new tenants have other ways of avoiding bills ie put it in landlords name and wont find out until they left. Its the same whether its working professionals or students. However, since i started using LA, they are much more well behave but not all of them. Certain group still tries it out with inhabitable home considering that they created the mould issues by ignoring our constant advice to ventilate and heat up the place considering the huge amount of washing they keep drying in their rooms. Come deposit time, they claim mould issues (which they created) and tried to get rent off and left place in a mess not cleaned and also return keys late but council and utility companies ignore that and charge us for it claiming following the contract given. No room for facts

  • icon
    • 04 May 2019 15:58 PM

    I have included utilities in my rents for years.
    I even include the Council Tax which whilst in their name is paid by me by credit card which gives me 56 days to pay the bill if timed correctly with the credit card.
    I reckon I make a very small profit but tenants appreciate not having to sort out bills that are not in their name.
    I can honestly say that I have never experienced out of range bills.
    The tenants have behaved themselves and certainly have fairly used the utilities.
    Of course I recognise not every LL will have experienced my nice sort of tenant.
    I guess LL have to take a view on how they manage such issues but I know my tenants appreciate not having to bother with everything.
    Just one monthly rent payment and everything is taken care of by the very nice LL; ME!!

  • Suzy OShea

    Hi Paul,

    I do the same! It has its rewards in unfathomable ways.

  • icon
    • 04 May 2019 17:21 PM

    As in everything PRS one cannot generalise.
    Having personally experienced recently the bills occasioned by occupying a semi-detached terrace property there is NO way I would offer inclusive bills to any tenants if they were occupying.
    Even though the property is EPC C status with this particular property the bills especially the gas would be horrendous.
    Only by carefully managing gas usage have I been able to keep bills in check.
    A tenant with inclusive bills would not feel constrained in such usage.
    So for my new-build flats then inclusive bills are sustainable.
    Each rental property has to be considered individually.
    I know which properties I can safely offer inclusive bills to and to what tenant types.
    I would for example NEVER offer inclusive bills to any tenant on HB; not that I would ever have any as I don't accept HB tenants particularly as they can never afford my rents.
    But as always a LL has to carefully tailor any offer with their property based on full DD.
    I for example have usage records going back 10 years so I know based on different types of occupancy what usage was occasioned.
    It is I admit only a rough guide but does assist my DD on what my offer for a particular property will be.
    My flat tenants have tended to be Portuguese and they do like the warmth so gas usage for CH is slightly more though fortunately the flats are very thermally efficient to the point that the flats are too warm for me but don't use that much in gas once up to the set temperature.
    But I would imagine for most LL offering inclusive bills is not a wise business offer.
    But of course with the new housing regulations tenants not keeping properties warm causes disrepair issues which then create a whole heap of problems.
    One thing that might assist LL to prevent tenants in degrading a rental property by refusing to use heat adequately could be the advent of smart meters.
    Subject to a tenant giving permission for a LL to discuss aspects of the utility accounts then LL would be able to ascertain energy usage remotely to determine that tenants are using sufficient amounts of energy to keep the property warm enough to prevent mould and damp.
    Any tenant not using sufficient energy could then be advised that they are not complying with the tenancy conditions to keep the property ventilated and warm and if sufficient energy is NOT used then they will be given NTQ.
    Though how this would work if and when S21 is abolished beats me!!

  • Suzy OShea

    Paul Barrett,

    If you keep records of energy usage and you stipulate in the contract the minimum amount of energy usage required to keep the property mould-free. And the tenant still does not comply with these terms, which you can prove, then you would even be able to use a Section 8 to evict the tenant for destructive vandalism!

    • 04 May 2019 17:57 PM

    That would be an interesting court case!!!
    Wonder whether a DJ would be so understanding and agree with your valid contention of destructive vandalism!?
    I reckon in such a court case it would be rejected by the DJ which is why a no-fault eviction process is required.................which we currently have in S21!!


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