Councils should have greater powers to fight rouge landlords found taking advantage of residents that are struggling to find “decent housing in the private rented sector”, the Local Government Authority has said.
The rogue landlords need to face “stronger sentencing, tougher license conditions and potential blacklisting”, the LGA said in a statement.
LGA housing spokesman councillor Peter Box said:
For the private rented sector to succeed, it needs a local response, led by councils. That means giving councils the tools to be truly effective against landlords who take advantage of tenants.
The courts need to punish rogue landlords proportionately and there should be a consistent standard when it comes to licensing. But we also need to tackle this problem at source by finding ways to ensure there is an adequate supply of good quality housing in the private rented sector.
The statement from the LGA comes in response to the Department for Communities and Local Government discussion paper on tackling rogue landlords.
The response calls clearly for supporting councils by allowing them stronger powers, and wants clarity on “the proposals for a blacklist and how it will be funded”.
The LGA also wants to see more powers given to councils to allow them to release surplus public land and support large scale investment in the private rented sector.
In one case, a landlord failed to comply with an improvement notice for a mice and cockroach-infested house. The landlord paid just £3,000 while ten tenants, including two children, were forced to share a damp and mouldy kitchen for ten months while the work was carried out.
Vice chairman of the LGA Gerald Vernon-Jackson told BBC Breakfast that “some landlords are really terrible and they need to be frightened”.
He added to BBC 5 live: "For a landlord who owns hundreds of houses and he gets tens of thousands of pounds every month, it's like giving a premiership footballer a speeding fine of £1,000 – it makes no difference.
We have to have some things available to the courts to use in the most serious of circumstances.
However, while chief executive of the National Landlords' Association Richard Lambert said there was "certainly a problem with enforcement of the existing legislation", he added rogue landlords are a minority and not commonplace, the BBC reported.