Councils across England have cut the amount they are spending on enforcement work to tackle criminal landlords by a quarter in less than 10 years.
According to analysis by the RLA , whilst spending by local authorities in England on housing standard activities was £44.5 million in 2009/10, by 2017/18 that had fallen to £33.5 million, a drop of £11m.
With over 150 Acts of Parliament containing more than 400 regulations affecting the private rented sector, the RLA is arguing that better enforcement of these laws, backed up by greater funding, is key to driving out the minority of landlords who can make life a misery for tenants and bring the sector into disrepute.
Whilst the government has recently made £2 million available for councils to support efforts to tackle problem landlords, the RLA does not believe that one-off pots of money provides the certainty for councils to be able to plan long term for enforcement action.
New civil penalty powers enable councils to keep the proceeds of fines levied on landlords who are breaking the law and use this money for further enforcement.
The problem the RLA says is that councils don’t have the resources to kick start the process by taking the action against criminal landlords that then leads to fines generating funding for further action.
The RLA is calling on the government to provide in the forthcoming Spending Review a multi-year funding package to support initial enforcement action.
RLA Chairman Alan Ward said: “Criminal landlords undermine the reputation of the decent majority, cause tenants to suffer and have no place in the sector.
“Local authorities must have the funds they need to properly enforce the wide range of powers they already have to tackle sub-standard housing and criminal behaviour.
“Our analysis shows that for all the warm words, councils are in desperate need of new funding to ensure this happens. The Government should use the Spending Review to address this as a matter of urgency.”2