The Nationwide Foundation - a pressure group funded by the Nationwide - says more effective enforcement is required for the private rental sector.
In a blog entry on its website it says that a 2022 study revealed that 56 per cent of local councils were unable to confirm how many complaints they received from private renters. And the foundation claims that even when inspections take place, councils rarely take formal action against landlords.
It adds that just three local councils were responsible for over a third of all the reported criminal prosecutions of landlords.
The blog author, Luke Fortmann, writes: “Why do we accept a much lower level of enforcement in the private rented sector than elsewhere? What would happen if we discovered that norms and regulations were being breached on a wide scale in hospitals or schools, for example, and no one was doing anything about it?
“We know that enforcement in the private rented sector isn’t any less important than in schools or hospitals: as the contexts in which we spend much of our time, our homes play a crucial role in shaping the quality and character of our lives. Ensuring those responsible for upholding standards are doing what they should be is just as essential here as anywhere else.”
The foundation says greater funding for councils, the creation of a private rental Ombudsman scheme, and the easier identification of landlords via a mandatory register would all help.
It is also demanding that the government gives councils the resources and the power to initiate a single point of contact in each authority, which would be the person to whom disgruntled tenants would reach out.
Fortmann adds: “Debates about the private rented sector often portray landlords and tenants as adversaries. But when it comes to enforcement, landlords and tenants generally agree that more and better enforcement is needed. Landlords who flout their legal duties give those who don’t a bad reputation, which is why landlord groups such as the National Residential Landlords Association have called for local authority enforcement to improve.”