- £5 million fund for councils to stop rogue landlords and tackle ‘beds in sheds’
- the worst offenders to be targeted
- 3,000 landlords now facing further enforcement action or prosecution
New funding will help up to 65 councils tackle rogue landlords who let out substandard homes and make tenants’ lives a misery, Communities Secretary Greg Clark has announced.
The worst affected councils which have a large proportion of private rented stock in their areas and significant problems will be able to bid for a share of the fund to tackle irresponsible landlords who provide unsafe living conditions, exploit innocent tenants and blight communities.
The fund will also target ‘beds in sheds’ which are often rented to vulnerable migrants by ruthless landlords who charge them extortionate rents to live in cramped conditions.
Councils can use the money to:
- increase inspections of property
- carry out more raids
- initiate more enforcement action and prosecutions
- demolish sheds and buildings that are prohibited
Communities Secretary Greg Clark said:
We’re determined to keep the country building and increase the supply of good quality homes that families want, both to buy and for rent.
Key to this is rooting out the minority of landlords in the private rented sector that let out poorly-maintained and unsafe properties to vulnerable tenants, making their lives a misery.
Council-led efforts mean more than 3,000 landlords have faced enforcement action and even prosecution in the last 2 years – today’s £5 million funding, combined with the extra powers we’re bringing forward, will help them go even further.
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:
The majority of tenants are happy with their home, but the private rental sector is still afflicted by too many rogues – who rent dangerous, dirty and overcrowded properties without a thought for the welfare of their tenants.
That’s why we are inviting the worst affected councils to come forward and apply for extra funding, so they can root out the cowboys and rogue operators.
The government is determined to crack down on rogue landlords and this funding, alongside measures in the Housing and Planning Bill, will further strengthen councils’ powers to tackle poor-quality privately rented homes in their area.
There are more than 4.4 million households renting privately. Since 2013 nearly 40,000 inspections have taken place in properties, with more than 3,000 landlords now facing further enforcement action or prosecution.
The measures will not hamper the vast majority of landlords who are diligent and responsible. They avoid strangling the industry in red tape which would deter investment, increase rent and reduce choice for tenants.
Additional measures being taken forward in the Housing and Planning Bill reinforce this crackdown on unscrupulous landlords and letting agents, including:
- seeking banning orders for the most prolific and serious offenders
- issuing penalty notices of up to £5,000 for breaches
- a new process for abandoned tenancies, which would allow a landlord to recover the home without the need to go to court
- creating a database of rogue landlords and letting agents
- applying a more stringent ‘fit and proper’ person test for landlords to help ensure that they have the skills to manage properties and a contact readily available to tenants
- extending Rent Repayment Orders to cover situations where a tenant has been illegally evicted or the landlord has failed to rectify a serious health and safety hazard in the property, and allowing local authorities to retain that money for housing purposes where the rent was paid through Housing Benefit or Universal Credit
The 65 local authorities have been written to and can now apply for additional funding by setting out the action they propose to take with the additional money. Councils will need to identify which parts of their area they wish to tackle.
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, council tax and benefit fraud, greater fire risk, anti-social behaviour such as street drinking.
The response to the discussion paper Tackling rogue landlords and improving the private rental sector was also published today (11 November 2015).
As part of the government’s wider efforts to increase protections for tenants, the Department for Communities and Local Government has awarded a new contract to the Deposit Protection Service to continue providing a custodial tenancy deposit scheme from 1 April 2016.
The department has also awarded contracts to the Dispute Service Ltd and Tenancy Deposit Solutions Ltd (trading as as MyDeposits) to run 2 new custodial deposit protection schemes in England and Wales from 1 April 2016.