Latest Public Sector News

12.11.15

Councils handed raid powers and £5m to stamp out poor housing

The 65 councils with the most private rented stock will be able to bid for a share of a £5m Whitehall fund to tackle substandard housing and rogue landlords through greater raid powers.

The government hopes the worst affected councils will use this money to increase inspections of properties, carry out more raids, initiate more enforcement action and prosecutions and demolish prohibited sheds and buildings.

The fund will also target ‘beds in sheds’, often rented to vulnerable migrants for extortionate fees and poor living conditions.

Greg Clark, communities secretary, said: “We’re determined to keep the country building and increase the supply of good quality homes that families want, both to buy and for rent. Key to this is rooting out the minority of landlords in the private rented sector that let out poorly-maintained and unsafe properties to vulnerable tenants, making their lives a misery.

“Council-led efforts mean more than 3,000 landlords have faced enforcement action and even prosecution in the last two years. Today’s £5m funding, combined with the extra powers we’re bringing forward, will help them go even further.”

The 65 councils have already been written to and can apply by 2 December for extra funding by outlining the actions they intend to take with this cash, specifically identifying which parts of their area they want to tackle.

Extra information of how to apply is included in the letter. PSE asked the DCLG for information on how many applying councils could be given a share of the funding, but has not yet heard back.

This will be particularly related to the ripple effect that overcrowded or dangerous accommodation can have in council catchments, such as noise problems, council tax and benefit fraud, greater fire risk, anti-social behaviour and street drinking.

Brandon Lewis, housing minister, said: “The majority of tenants are happy with their home, but the private rental sector is still afflicted by too many rogues – who rent dangerous, dirty and overcrowded properties without a thought for the welfare of their tenants.

“That’s why we are inviting the worst affected councils to come forward and apply for extra funding, so they can root out the cowboys and rogue operators.”

These measures are intended to dodge government red tape that ultimately deters investment, inflates rent levels and reduces tenancy choice.

And other powers embedded in the Housing and Planning Bill currently making its way through Parliament will serve to reinforce this crackdown on rogue landlords. Under the Bill, councils will be able to seek banning orders and issue penalty notices for breaches of up to £5,000, as well as have access to a database of rogue landlords and letting agents.

(Top image c. Lynne Cameron/PA Wire)

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