More than 100 councils in England are to receive new funding from the Government to take on criminal landlords and letting agents and improve standards in the private rental sector.
More than £4 million is being made available to fund enforcement initiatives against a minority of private landlords and agents who are breaking the law by providing inadequate and unsafe housing. Councils are also expected to use the grants to provide advice for tenants of their housing rights.
In his announcement, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said the funding being pledged is intended to support councils to make the best use of the powers that they have to ensure that landlords make improvements to properties, including trialling innovative ideas and sharing best practice.
Councils already have a range of enforcement powers for use against unscrupulous landlords, including civil penalties and banning orders.
The funds have been earmarked for a number of local council initiatives, including a grant for 21 councils across Yorkshire and Humberside to train more than 100 enforcement officers across the region to ensure that standards are being met by landlords; in Northampton, a special operations unit will be created to enforce against the very worst landlords responsible for at least 100 homes in the town; in Thurrock, the funding will enable work with the care service to ensure that the most vulnerable young tenants are in decent, well-maintained homes; and in Greenwich, new technology will be trialled to identify particularly cold homes to make sure that renters are warm over winter.
There are more than 4.5 million households in the private rented sector in England, with recent statistics showing that 82% of private renters are satisfied with their accommodation, according to the Ministry of Housing.
However, problems in the private rental sector persist and the new funding follows previous measures introduced by the Government to crack down on unfair and criminal practices such as prohibiting landlords from removing tenants without good reason, and introducing Lifetime Rental Deposits to avoid tenants having to save money for a deposit for a new property while their current deposit is tied up.