The UK government has announced that it has earmarked £2million to help councils tackle the problem of rogue landlords.
Councils can apply to have some of the fund allocated to them before the end of November to help them combat the minority of landlords whose tenants live in what the government call “squalid” conditions.
It follows hot on the heels of a recent change in policy that will allow the public access to a database of rogue landlords that had previously only been open to central and local government. An investigation by the Guardian and ITV News had revealed that not a single name had been added to the list in the six months since its launch.
The money from the fund could help councils in a variety of ways, including working with external agencies like the emergency services to crack down on criminal landlords, and developing digital solutions to speed up help for tenants in inadequate properties.
Other recent moves in this area include forcing more landlords to improve their property’s energy efficiency by raising the threshold where they could be exempt from having to do so by £1,000 to £3,500.
“Everyone deserves 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, said Housing Minister, Heather Wheeler, MP.
“This funding will help further strengthen councils’ powers to tackle rogue landlords and ensure that poor-quality homes in their area are improved, making the housing market fairer for everyone.”
Measures already exist to weed out bad apples
But one industry expert feels that while the fund is welcome, cracking down on the poor landlords could be done by better enforcement of measures that already exist.
David Smith, the Residential Landlords Association’s policy director, says: “We welcome news of new funding for enforcement which we have long campaigned for, but believe it must be part of a long term and sustainable settlement that provides the resources needed to support good landlords and root out the criminals.
“The vast majority of landlords do a good job and provide decent housing for their tenants. That’s why 84% of private tenants are satisfied with their accommodation, a higher proportion than the social rented sector.
“Poor enforcement of the wide range of powers already available means that the minority of landlords who bring the sector into disrepute undercut the majority of good landlords and bring misery to the lives of their tenants. This is what the funding needs to tackle.”