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Spending slashed on policing rogue operators in the private rented sector

New figures from a leading trade body suggest that councils across England have cut by a quarter the amount they are spending on dealing with rogue operators in the private rental sector compared with a decade ago.

According to the Residential Landlords Association, whilst spending by local authorities in England on ‘housing standards activities’ was £44.5m in 2009/10, by 2017/18 that had fallen to £33.5m, a drop of £11m.

With over 150 Acts of Parliament containing more than 400 regulations affecting the private rented sector, the RLA is arguing that better enforcement of these laws - backed up by greater funding - is key to driving out the minority of rogue operators who can make life a misery for tenants and bring the sector into disrepute.

The government recently made £2m available for councils to tackle problem landlords, but the RLA does not believe that one-off pots of money provides the certainty for councils to be able to plan long term for enforcement action.

New civil penalty powers enable councils to keep the proceeds of fines levied on landlords who are breaking the law and use this money for further enforcement. 

The problem, the association says, is that councils don’t have the resources to kick start the process by taking the action against criminal landlords that then leads to fines generating funding for further action. 

The RLA is calling on the government to provide in its forthcoming spending review a multi-year funding package to support initial enforcement action.

RLA policy manager John Stewart says: “Criminal landlords undermine the reputation of the decent majority, cause tenants to suffer and have no place in the sector.

“Local authorities must have the funds they need to properly enforce the wide range of powers they already have to tackle sub-standard housing and criminal behaviour. Our analysis shows that for all the warm words, councils are in desperate need of new funding to ensure this happens. 

“The government should use the spending review to address this as a matter of urgency.”

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Surely with the massive revenues being generated by licensing schemes the legality of this must be questioned- surely there should be some legal mandate that the funds raised are used to implement the changes/improvements they are suggesting!?!

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    Govt are treating PRS like a cash-cow.
    Scrimping on L.A funding and appearing to Tenants and the opposition to be tough on ( tiny minority of ) bad practice by throwing poorly drafted regulations and laws at the industry at a phenomenal rate.
    MHCLG are guilty of Lack of Management, Accountability and Leadership amongst L.A's
    What I would say in the Govt's favour [ which isn't much ] is that the Housing & Planning Act 2016 has permitted Councils to raise funds for enforcement via Civil Penalties ( appropriately administered ) which the majority of LA's have failed to utilise.

    S l
    • S l
    • 28 February 2019 13:43 PM

    actually, they already done that with the penalties and court suit against landlord even over matter such as smoke alarm which the tenant themselves damage. it was found out by the landlord and told to repair it to which their response is to complain to local authority on damage smoke alarm and the landlord was made out to be a bad landlord putting tenant life at risk and being sued in court with penalties and shamed.

     
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