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Revealed: councils’ feeble enforcement against rogue operators

Figures given through a Parliamentary answer have revealed just how bad councils in England are at policing and enforcement action against rogue landlords.

The data, analysed by the Residential Landlords Association, shows that during the 18 months until the end of September 2018 just three Rent Repayment Orders across England had been made by local authorities.

Where the rent is paid directly by a tenant, they have the same rights to apply for a Rent Repayment Order as councils and 18 have been made over the same period.

Since April 2017 local authorities have had the power to reclaim up to 12 months of rent from private landlords for a range of offences in instances where rent was paid through Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit. 

Tenants who pay their rent directly have the same rights. 

Offences include those related to the licensing of rented property, a failure by a landlord to comply with an Improvement Notice served on them, seeking to evict tenants illegally or engaging in harassing behaviour.

The figures come after research by the RLA has already shown that councils are also failing to use new powers they have to fine landlords up to £30,000 for failing to provide acceptable housing.

The new civil penalty powers were introduced in April 2017, and Freedom of Information requests by the RLA have found that in 2017/18 89 per cent of local authorities did not use these new powers. Half reported that they did not have a policy in place to use them.

“Councils are failing tenants and good landlords. For all the talk about them needing new powers, the reality is that many are not properly using the wide range of powers they already have to drive out criminal landlords” explains David Smith, policy director for the RLA.

“Laws without proper enforcement mean nothing. It’s time for councils to start acting against the crooks” he adds.

  • S l
    • S l
    • 30 March 2019 07:25 AM

    Finally, an article that speaks the truth. This shows that there is no need for the exorbitant licensing fees nor the licensing procedure. The council will always have the powers to tell landlord what to do and to upgrade their houses. This licensing does in no way stop rogue landlord but purely increase the revenue for the council with no transparency of where it is going.

  • icon

    Local Authorities imposing draconian, ineffective Licensing schemes, Not needed and Not achieving - or even used for the intended purpose !
    When will the Landlord Cash-cow be culled ?
    Question is, Whose ' licensing - overseeing Local Authorities, Not MHCLG, obviously '
    And all this follows in the Social Housing scandals recently, none of who are subject to anything like the proscriptions placed on the PRS. !
    Gross lack of Management and Leadership of L.A's by MHCLG - who are Unaccountable.

  • Paul Barrett

    It is a crying shame that that Councils refuse to enforce regulations against rogue LL.
    We all understand the reasons why.
    But for such Councils to engage in what are just revenue raising exercises in the form of expensive LL licensing fees is simply beyond the pale.
    But of course Councils DON'T wish to find all the dodgy properties because as soon as they do they are obligated to house the tenants of these dodgy properties!!
    That could involve the Council having to house these tenants in very expensive TA!!
    I have every sympathy for Councils but it is simply inexcusable that those self-same Councils are trying to use private LL as cash cows to cover for loss of Govt grant.
    This will simply result in a further reducing PRS which will impose even further TA costs on councils.
    Councils need to think out of the box.
    Support private LL.
    Encourage private LL to take on tenants making their properties available for inspection.
    Councils to pay market rents.
    Forget LHA rates they are inadequate to persuade LL to take on certain tupes of tenants.
    Accept that a S21 is a notice to terminate a tenancy.
    Eviction is not such a tenancy termination that councils routinely rely on to put off responsibility for housing homeless tenants.
    No tenant who complies with a S21 should be considered as having made themselves INTENTIONALLY HOMELESS.
    A tenant complying is doing so with a legal contract.
    Councils should NOT be accusing tenants of making themselves intentionally homeless when they comply with a S21 notice.
    In a market shirtage situation it is very difficult to maintain the condition of rental properties.
    Desperate peopke wilm rent anything.
    Beats a cardboard box!!
    Of course Govt isn't assisting with its ridiculous S24 policy which is causing a continuing reduction in rental supply.

  • G romit

    Councils are just driving more and more good Landlords out of the PRS. Evicted Tenants then are made homeless and is causing massive inceeased costs to Councils to provide temporary accommodation at 3 or 4 times the cost in the PRS. Some Councils are giving Landlords huge golden handshakes to provide accommodation to people on their homeless list.

    Talk about shooting themselves in the foot - DUH!!

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