Friday, 10 February 2012

Will the Housing Minister tackle rogue landlords? Probably not.

Housing minister Grant Shapps has been urged to make good his promise in the Government's housing strategy and tackle rogue landlords. (From 24

Shelter says that rogue landlords are still "cashing in" on the high demand for rented homes, and "trapping families in squalid and sometimes dangerous conditions".

Shelter wants Shapps to take five steps to tackle landlords who break the law. They include:
Tougher sentencing for criminal landlords: increasing the maximum penalty for ignoring a court order to improve conditions from £5,000 to £20,000.

A rogue landlord prosecution fund: earmarking money to help councils get tough on landlords blighting their area. New protection for brave tenants: safeguard tenants from being evicted in retaliation for whistleblowing.
An online landlord conviction database: a new website listing all convicted landlords to help tenants avoid criminal landlords.

A rogue landlord summit convened by the Housing Minister to create a clear action plan to protect tenants.

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: "This high demand is a golden opportunity for rogue landlords who are exploiting the desperation of people looking for a home, and leaving them trapped in houses that fail to meet basic living standards and, in some cases, put lives at risk.

"For families in particular, the shortage of rented homes, together with the upheaval to family life, means that many are too scared to challenge bad landlords for fear of eviction. This means that increasingly, it’s children who are suffering at the hands of this rogue minority."

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has called on local authorities to more effectively root out those who flout their obligations under the law.

It highlights Government data indicating that the majority of private rented sector tenants are satisfied with their tenancies. It also condemns rogue landlords.

The problem, according to the RLA, is that "councils have failed to focus on tracking down bad landlords because of seeking to meet central Government targets to licence landlords".

The RLA said: "With limited resources, they put their effort into the easy to check landlords who are the most visible and compliant and do not concentrate instead on those who deliberately seek to evade inspection. That’s why councils brought only 270 prosecutions of landlords last year."