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New data has come to light, that almost half of local councils have issued no fines, to crack down on criminal landlords.
Since 2017, local councils have been able to issue penalties of up to £30,000, for a range of housing offences.
Thanks to a freedom of information act request from the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), data has been released to show that, despite having access to these fines, most councils have not used them.
The records show that since 2018, only 130 local authorities in England out of the 275 who replied to the survey (47%) had issued any civil penalties.
Most of the fines issued (71%) were issued by just 7% of the local councils.
This means that only 3,200 civil penalties were issued in the past 3 years, despite the minister’s suggestions that there may be 3 times the number of criminal landlords operating in the PRS.
These criminal landlords, who have arguably given the sector a bad name in recent years, are often the target of public outcry.
This makes the support of landlords a political hot potato, despite many MP’s operating as landlords themselves.
It can be hard for politicians to appear “pro-landlord” without the topic of rogue landlords simmering away.
NRLA speaks out
Commenting on the results of the survey, Chris Norris, director of policy and campaigns at the NRLA, states:
“Our findings show that most councils are failing to use all the tools available to them to tackle rogue and criminal landlords.
“By failing to apply appropriate sanctions to punish wrongdoing, councils are weakening the principle of deterrence which underpins the civil penalties regime.
“We are calling on all councils to ensure they are making full and proper use of the powers they have to tackle those landlords who cause misery to tenants and bring the sector into disrepute.
“The government’s plans to reform the private rented sector due later this year will mean nothing if changes are not properly enforced.”
Whilst this data could be seen to reinforce the message that a few rogue landlords have been operating without scrutiny, it can also be interpreted as a call for support in local councils.
Landlords who are operating above board do not want competition from “rogue” landlords and could arguably benefit from them being removed from the equation.
However, even with extensive powers and the ability to hand out these rulings, to ensure the PRS stays pure, it appears local councils lack the capacity to enforce these penalties.
Should more be done in regards to funding, to see local councils the ablility to enforce the powers given to them?