Councils crack down on rogue landlords using existing powers
Two councils which have – so far – not gone along the licensing route, appear to have successfully stepped up their efforts in the private rented sector.
Using powers already available to them, both Greenwich and Boston councils have reported on their separate crackdowns on bad landlords and agents.
Boston in Lincolnshire, which last year rejected the idea of compulsory landlord licensing, is continuing with its Rogue Landlord Project.
This was launched last year using £109,000 of government funding. Landlords had previously objected to a licensing proposal which would have cost £450 per property.
The council’s alternative has a hotline number for callers who can stay anonymous but are asked to record their concerns about a property, landlord or letting agent in the borough.
Boston councillors have now voted to use the authority’s own funding to maintain the system.
Some 199 properties were inspected in the 12 months to the end of January 2015. A total of 245 notices were served:
– 132 notices for power of entry
– 80 formal requests for information
– 9 demands for payment
– 8 improvement notices
– 8 hazard awareness notices
– 3 prohibition notices
– 2 emergency remedial notices
– 2 environmental protection notices
– 1 temporary exemption notice.
A council spokesman described the non-licensing scheme as “a deterrent”.
Separately, Greenwich Council has made 1,000 visits to properties since launching a crackdown on rogue landlords last spring.
The specialist rogue landlord team is currently involved in 800 investigations.
It has also served more than 100 improvement notices and started legal prosecutions.
Visits have identified 430 category one hazards which include leaking roofs and letting water directly into homes.
Cllr Jackie Smith, Greenwich Council cabinet member for community safety and environment, said: “At a time when private sector rents are so high, it’s especially unacceptable for tenants to have to live in some of the poor, dangerous and often illegal conditions we have been seeing.”
The London Fire Brigade are partners in the project.
Greenwich, like Boston, has no licensing scheme beyond the mandatory one for certain HMOs.
It’s encouraging to see Local Authorities not only cracking down on rogue landlords but also efficiently using existing housing regulatory legislation to carry out effective enforcement action. It seems not all councils are preoccupied with looking for new ways to generate income from private sector landlords to fund their regulatory function.
Well done Greenwich Council and Boston Council.