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Councils fail to chase rogue landlords for £7m in unpaid fines

Councils fail to chase rogue landlords for £7m in unpaid fines
Samantha Partington
Written By:
Samantha Partington
Posted:
14/05/2024
Updated:
15/05/2024

Local authorities have failed to collect £7m in fines levied against rogue landlords between 2021 and 2023, which the industry body says “makes a mockery” of the deterrent the penalty system should pose.

Over the period, £13m worth of civil penalties were issued to rogue landlords by councils, but only £6m has been collected so far, according to data obtained by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).

Local authorities can issue civil penalties of up to £30,000 for a range of offences committed by rogue landlords. Proceeds can be used to fund further enforcement activity.

The data highlighted how almost half of local authorities have not issued any civil penalties between 2021 and 2023, while 69% had issued five or fewer.

The figures come as the Renters Reform Bill, currently going through Parliament, extends the range of offences that councils can issue civil penalties for.

The NRLA has raised the question of how able councils will be to use these newly acquired powers when almost half are not using the powers they already have.

‘Makes a mockery of the deterrent such fines should be’

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said: “Rogue and criminal landlords cause misery for their tenants and undermine the reputation of the responsible majority. Tackling them should be a high priority for councils.

“At a time of tight budgets, it is strange that councils are failing to collect the fines levied on those landlords failing to do the right thing. It makes a mockery of the deterrent such fines should be. It will also come as a bitter blow to the many responsible landlords who comply with, and exceed, their responsibilities – but are subject to licensing regimes and associated fees all the same.”

The NRLA is calling for the creation of a new national chief environmental health officer to lead the charge for improved enforcement against rogue and criminal landlords.

The Government should also establish a recruitment and training fund to boost capacity in council enforcement teams, and better support the sharing of best practice between councils.

“It is vital that the Government and councils work together to boost the capacity of enforcement teams to make better use of the existing powers they have to tackle poor-quality housing,” Beadle added.

He said: “Without this, additional protections for tenants in the Renters Reform Bill run the risk of being meaningless.”