Housing

Council action against criminal landlords is down by a quarter

Government should give councils extra funding to tackle landlords who make life 'a misery', say experts

The worst-affected areas were London, the south west and the east of England, where the poorest households shelled out over 50% of their monthly income on even the cheapest available rents.

The most expensive areas were London, the south west and the east, where the poorest households shelled out over 50% of their monthly income on even the cheapest rents.

Local authorities across England are spending £11m less on dealing with problem landlords than in 2009-10.

Researchers at the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) found that councils spent £44.5m on housing standard activities, but government figures show this has dropped to £33.5m.

There are more than 150 Acts of Parliament, containing over 400 regulations affecting private renting, but the RLA analysis points to them not being enforced properly.

Better enforcement 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,” the report concluded.

The RLA concluded that the problem is cyclical – councils do not have the power or resources to “kick start the process” by bringing action against landlords who break the law and thus generate funds from penalties levied. This lack of resources stops them raising the money to fund any future action against other criminal landlords.

A £2m fund for councils to tackle problem landlords was recently established by the government, but RLA experts “do not believe that one-off pots of money provide the certainty for councils to be able to plan long-term for enforcement action.”

John Stewart, policy manager for the Residential Landlords Association, 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.”

The RLA wants the government to design a long-term funding package for councils to tackle problem landlords and present it in the forthcoming Spending Review.

Councillor Martin Tett, housing spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Councils are doing everything they can to ensure that rogue landlords are dealt with robustly and effectively. However, as well as limited resources and competing funding pressures, councils are being hamstrung by an outdated system wracked by delays, bureaucracy and paltry fines. It can take more than a year to prosecute a rogue landlord.

“Laws governing the sector need to be simplified to free councils up from bureaucratic processes to focus on frontline work. Recently announced government funding of £2.4 million will help councils tackle rogue landlords, as will new powers for banning orders for the worst operators, and the flexibility to issue fines to private landlords as an alternative to prosecutions.

“With our housing crisis making it easier for a minority of bad landlords to exploit tenants, councils must be given a lead role in building new affordable rented homes so that people who can’t afford or choose not to buy are not forced into the more expensive private rented sector.

“With homelessness and temporary accommodation facing a funding gap of £110 million in 2019/20, we want to work with the Government to ensure the Spending Review delivers for councils, which will help improve standards in the private rented sector.”

Support your local Big Issue vendor

If you can’t get to your local vendor every week, subscribing directly to them online is the best way to support your vendor. Your chosen vendor will receive 50% of the profit from each copy and the rest is invested back into our work to create opportunities for people affected by poverty.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
How can I help homeless people during a UK heatwave?
uk heatwave
Homelessness

How can I help homeless people during a UK heatwave?

Our right to housing is dependent on our immigration status – that's the definition of racism
Homelessness

Our right to housing is dependent on our immigration status – that's the definition of racism

Academics put trackers on homeless people – what they learned could be a 'game-changer'
A homeless person is interviewed on the streets of Sutton
Rough sleeping

Academics put trackers on homeless people – what they learned could be a 'game-changer'

Activist Kwajo Tweneboa: 'We're facing the biggest housing crisis since World War II'
Housing

Activist Kwajo Tweneboa: 'We're facing the biggest housing crisis since World War II'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know

Support our vendors with a subscription

For each subscription to the magazine, we’ll provide a vendor with a reusable water bottle, making it easier for them to access cold water on hot days.