The Government’s approach towards private landlords risks hurting tenants, a major property consultancy has warned, after the Housing Minister Brandon Lewis last week announced a £5 million cash boost for local authorities to tackle rogue landlords in their area.
Forty-eight councils will share the funding so they can take on the irresponsible landlords that force tenants to live in squalid and dangerous properties.
It is hoped that the cash will also allow councils to root out more ‘beds in sheds’. Since 2011 almost 40,000 inspections have taken place in properties with over 3,000 landlords facing further enforcement action or prosecution.
The funding will allow local authorities to carry out more raids, increase inspections of property, issue more statutory notices, survey more streets and to demolish sheds and prohibited buildings.
The Housing Minister said last week that the funding is part of a package of measures that will ensure millions of tenants get a better deal when they rent a home.
Mr Lewis (left) said, “Many private rental tenants are happy with their home and the service they receive, but there are still rogue landlords that exploit vulnerable people and force their tenants to live in overcrowded and squalid accommodation.
“We are determined to tackle these rogues which is why we are providing 48 councils with extra funding, so they can get rid of the cowboy operators in their area and bring an end to tenants living in miserable homes in the name of profit.
“We also want to raise the quality and choice of rental accommodation across the sector. The funding will ensure tenants know what level of service they can expect and have confidence to get help and take action if things go wrong.”
The fresh funding to tackle rogue landlords is part of an ambitious package of proposals in the Housing and Planning Bill to ensure that England’s 9 million private tenants feel confident to demand better standards and management of their property by landlords. However, Julian Goddard, Head of Residential at Daniel Watney LLP, has warned the Government’s stigmatisation of the buy-to-let sector may end up harming tenants by forcing landlords to withdraw at a time when rental demand is soaring.
Informing tenants of their rights, promoting accreditation of letting agents and encouraging institutional investment into the rental market would prove far more effective he argues.
Mr Goddard commented, “No one doubts the need to tackle criminal landlords and those who do genuinely makes their tenants’ lives a misery. But these landlords are a tiny minority. The fact is the vast majority of them provide a valuable service in return for a deserved top-up to their income.
“By stigmatising landlords, the government risks pushing many out of the market, reducing the supply of available properties when demand for rental accommodation is at an all time high.
“If the government was serious about fixing the PRS, it would instead focus on better informing tenants of their rights, promoting accreditation of letting agents, and encouraging more institutional investment in the sector.”