Councils across the country will receive a £4 million Christmas cash boost to tackle rogue landlords in their area, Housing Minister Kris Hopkins announced today (30 December 2013).
Twenty three councils will share the funding so they can take on the ‘unscrupulous Scrooges’: landlords that force their tenants to live in squalid and dangerous properties, making their lives a misery.
The cash will enable councils to build on their work to root out ‘beds in sheds’. Since 2011 more than 500 of these illegally-rented outhouses have been discovered and action taken against the owners, while 9 councils have already received £2.6 million to tackle the problem.
Mr Hopkins said today’s funding is part of a package of measures that will ensure millions of hard-working tenants get a better deal when they rent a home. He also revealed that:
- new legislation, which came into force earlier this month, will enable courts to take account of landlords’ assets, as well as their income, when levying fines for housing offences
- redress schemes for lettings and property management will now be able to come forward for approval, after the application criteria was published today. All agents will be required to join one of the approved schemes, so their tenants have somewhere to turn if they don’t get the service they deserve
- the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors have agreed to help develop a voluntary code of practice on property management, and will host a workshop in January to get the work started. The code will set standards for the management of rental properties, so tenants know what level of service they should expect from their landlord.
Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said:
The majority of tenants are happy with their home, but the private rental market is still afflicted by too many ‘unscrupulous Scrooges’: miserly landlords who rent dangerous, dirty and overcrowded properties without a thought for the welfare of their tenants.
That’s why we’re providing 23 councils with extra funding, so they can root out the cowboys and rogue operators in their area, and consign these scenes of Dickensian destitution to where they belong: the history books.
We also want to raise the quality and choice of rental accommodation across the whole sector. Today’s measures will continue our progress, ensuring tenants know what level of service they can expect and, if things do go wrong, giving them the confidence to get help and take action.
Rogue landlords ripple effect
The poor quality, overcrowded and dangerous accommodation rented by rogue landlords can result in a ripple effect of wider problems in the local community, such as:
- noise problems
- sanitation issues for whole streets
- greater fire risk
- council tax and benefit fraud
- anti-social behaviour such as street drinking
More help to rent
Today’s measures to tackle rogue landlords are part of an ambitious package of proposals to ensure England’s nine million private tenants:
- avoid hidden fees from unscrupulous letting agents
- can request long-term rental deals that cut costs and provide stability for their family
- feel confident to demand better standards and management of their property by landlords
Today’s publication will enable the government to start approving redress schemes, so they can get started. The remaining 3,000 lettings and property management agents, around 40% of the entire industry, who do not belong to scheme will now be required to join one by October 2014.
Tenants will then be able to ensure complaints about hidden fees and poor service are investigated independently and, where a complaint is upheld, receive compensation.
Twenty-three councils across the country will receive funding to help tackle rogue landlords in their area:
- Barnsley £230,000
- Blackpool £293,000
- Bolton £56,000
- Boston £109,000
- Bournemouth £134,000
- Croydon £82,000
- Derby £238,000
- Fenland £179,000
- Hastings £204,000
- Herefordshire £54,000
- Hounslow £260,000
- Lambeth £82,000
- Leeds £125,000
- Lewisham £125,000
- Medway £64,000
- Newham £1,028,000
- Nottingham £124,000
- Oxford £150,000
- Pennine Lancashire £109,000
- Plymouth £68,000
- Rochdale £111,000
- Rossendale £79,000
- Sheffield £145,000