Over a quarter of local authorities in England have failed to prosecute any rogue landlords in the past five years and a further half have prosecuted less than two a year.
In total, just 2,006 criminal landlords have been convicted in the last five years, with an average fine of £1,500.
Local Authorities Don’t Do Enough to Tackle Rogue Landlords
The statistics were collected after a Freedom of Information request from the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).
Policy Director of the RLA, David Smith, comments: “Tenants and good landlords are being let down.
“Councils have plenty of powers to enforce standards in private rented housing and tackle criminal landlords. It is sad that at best the record on enforcement is patchy and at worst non-existent.”
The RLA is campaigning for councils to abolish landlord licensing schemes and use existing powers to tackle criminal landlords.
It notes that the new Housing and Planning Bill, which will introduce a register of rogue landlords and letting agents, will boost these powers, as well as implementing a legal measure to ban criminal landlords and agents from the industry.
The RLA believes that the bill will make licensing schemes unnecessary, as councils will be able to request information about tenure and landlords on Council Tax forms.
Smith adds: “The Housing Bill makes clear that landlord licensing schemes are not needed and serve only as a money raising exercise by councils.
“Local authorities now have serious questions to answer. Why are they charging good landlords when they can collect the information they need to drive out criminal landlords using Council Tax registration forms for free.”1
Citizens Advice reports that criminal landlords are cheating the benefits system.
Chief Executive Gillian Guy says: “Dodgy landlords make as much as £5.6m a year from renting out homes that don’t meet legal standards and £1.3 billion of this bill is picked up by the state in the form of housing benefit.
“Tenants are having to pay soaring rents despite severe damp, rat infestations and even the risk of explosions.”1
Housing charity Shelter claims that around half a million private rental homes are in a bad condition, including damp, mould, electrical hazards and infestations.
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s Chief Executive, insists: “The Government must do more to protect renters from the rogue landlords who let out these shoddy properties, so that every renter can feel safe in their own home.”1