Dozens of councils in England are to receive additional funding to help them root criminal landlords out of the sector- Housing Minister Heather Wheeler announced this week.
The £2.4m pot of funding will be shared between 50 councils across the country.
It will be used to boost short term staffing levels as well as to create new digital tools which the Government say will ‘help councils better protect tenants.
Existing Council powers to tackle criminal landlords
Councils already have some powers to take action against criminal landlords. These powers include civil penalties, banning orders, and rent repayment orders as well as the Government’s rogue landlord database.R
However, research published last year by the RLA’s research arm, PEARL, found that two thirds of councils in England and Wales bought NO prosecutions against private landlords in 2017/2018.
What Council’s will use the additional funding for
According to MHCLG, the additional pot of funding will be used to support a range of projects, for example to build relationships will external organisations such as the emergency services, legal services and local housing advocates.
It will also be used by Councils to help tackle the ‘common challenges’ they face when tackling poor standards in the private rented sector, including data sharing between local authorities and agencies and innovative software for enforcement officers to record their findings on and streamline the enforcement process.
“Vital that we crack down on small minority of landlords who’re not giving their tenants security”
Speaking about this additional pot of funding for Council’s Housing Minister Heather Wheeler said:
“Everyone has the right to live in a home that is safe and secure, and it is vital we crack down on the small minority of landlords who are not giving their tenants this security.
This extra funding will further boost councils’ ability to root out rogue landlords and ensure that poor-quality homes in the area are improved, making the housing market fairer for everyone”
Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act
In March, a new law will come into force that will also help to tackle bad practice in the sector. The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill will make it a requirement for all social and private landlords (or agents acting on their behalf) in England to ensure that a property is fit for human habitation at the beginning and throughout the duration of the tenancy.
If a home does not meet the standard of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), tenants will have the right to take legal action in the courts, for breach of contract. The Bill amends the Landlord and Tenant Act 1984. The RLA is hosting a Property Standards webinar next month, which will cover what landlords need to know about the new legislation. You can sign up to this here.