A council accused of paying over £500,000 to a landlord it had already ruled as unfit to rent out property is now calling for government action.
Labour-controlled Brent council in north London was in October the centre of an investigation by ITV News and The Guardian.
In recent days The Guardian has returned to the topic and has named a landlord who failed Brent council’s ‘fit and proper person’ test for landlords in 2015.
The decision meant that the landlord was barred from directly renting out houses in multiple occupation across Brent, or any home in eight of the borough’s wards where landlords specifically require a licence.
However, The Guardian now alleges it has continued to pay the landlord vast sums of public money for renting out homes since it banned him.
“The discovery that a local authority is directly paying public money to a landlord its own officers describe as ‘rogue’ is the latest example of the ineffective regulations designed to police the private rented sector’s worst offenders” says the newspaper.
Now Brent council - in a statement that pointedly makes no reference to The Guardian’s revelations - says the government should stop so-called rogue landlords receiving housing benefit.
Councillor Eleanor Southwood, cabinet member for housing and welfare reform, says: "It's completely unacceptable that landlords who flout the rules and cause misery for thousands of tenants across the country receive housing benefit. Today, I have written to the minister urging him to act on this issue.
"We need the law on our side to help us protect tenants' rights and drive up standards in the private rented sector. Last week, Brent received a grant of over £100,000 which we'll be using to provide further support for private tenants in the battle against rogue landlords. But we need government to make legislative change so that we have all the tools we need.”
You can see the latest Guardian article here.