Councils will now be able to bid for a portion of a £2 million fund, intended to help local authorities boost enforcement action to fight rogue landlords, the government has announced. According to new figures from the government, there are over 4.5 million homes in the private rented sector located in England, with 82 per cent of private renters claiming to be satisfied with their housing. However, there is still a number of landlords operating who do not utilise professional lettings agents, so avoiding having to provide tenants with a higher level of protection. Other landlords rent property directly to tenants, and do not adhere to the law, whether by willful neglect or ignorance.

The fund will allow councils to take on the challenges presented by bad landlords and tackle poor standards currently seen in the private rented sector. This would include:

– Data sharing between agents and authorities, which would identify and bring different data sets together to allow improved enforcement targeting

– Innovative software that would allow enforcement operators to gather evidence, record their findings and streamline the entire enforcement process

– The demand for better information on agents and landlords operating locally, as well as on housing stock

– Internal best practices which would improve communication between in-house teams, as well as strategies and tools to implement policy effectively and to improve housing-specific legal advice.

Heather Wheeler, the Housing Minister, stated that the funding will further help and strengthen local councils’ powers to fight rogue landlords, and will guarantee that poorer quality homes are improved, which, in turn, will make the rental housing market fairer for all. The £2 million fund will be made available for the 2018/2019 financial year, with local authorities being made aware that they must spend and mobilise the money provided, and offer support to people as soon as possible.

The news follows an announcement from the government earlier this month that the database of rogue landlords and letting agents will be made available to tenants, which is positive news for the industry. Keeping the database hidden was a typical example of the government’s lack of consideration for the unintended consequences of the current policy, the Housing and Planning Bill, which has received negative responses from across the industry. However, this move by the government demonstrates that it is now listening to the concerns of the industry, and it is hoped the database will now fulfill its aim of making the sector more professional. However, local enforcement agencies must work in unison to ensure enforcement action is undertaken properly.

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