The government’s decision to invest an additional £4m in funding for local councils to tackle criminal landlords and letting agents has been warmly welcomed by The Guild of Property Professionals.
The housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, announced on Friday that he has pledged new funding to be used to clamp down on rogue landlords, with the money set to be shared between more than 100 councils across England
He commented: “Councils already have strong powers to force landlords to make necessary improvements to a property through the use of a range of measures, including civil penalties and banning orders for the worst offenders.
“The grants will support a range of projects to enable councils to make the best use of these powers. This will include trialling innovative ideas, sharing best practice and targeted enforcement where we know landlords shirk their responsibilities.”
There are more than 4.5 million households in the private rented sector in England, with recent statistics showing that 82% of private renters are satisfied with their accommodation, which although impressive, does suggest that there is room for improvement
The Guild’s inhouse Compliance Officer, Paul Offley, said: “We fully support this initiative as it will ensure that rogue landlords and letting agents are punished for breaking the law and it will also ensure that more tenants are treated fairly.
“With the funding providing councils with a means to crack down on illegal activity in the lettings market, tenants will have more protection and the standards of the rental sector will be raised.”
“An environment where exploitative landlords are stamped out will enable good landlords and letting agents to thrive,” he added.
But the government funding to root out criminal landlords has been described by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) as inadequate to tackle the scale of the problem.
David Smith, policy director for the RLA, said: “We welcome the government’s focus on rooting out criminal landlords. For too long the debate has been driven by ideological calls for more regulation of the sector. What is needed is better enforcement of the powers already available to tackle the minority who bring the sector into disrepute.
“The funding though is nowhere near enough. Instead of offering inadequate and sporadic pots of money, it is critical that the government provides proper, multi-year funding to enable councils to plan and prepare workable strategies to find the criminal landlords. This should be supported by councils having the political will to prioritise enforcement against the crooks rather than tying good landlords up in licensing schemes which do nothing to protect tenants.”