Call for criminal landlords to be jailed

The Local Government Association has called for landlords who commit the most serious housing offences to be jailed.

The move, which included calls for councils to be given greater powers, came in a response to the Government consultation on how to deal with criminal landlords and letting agents.

The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, called for tougher sentencing powers for magistrates and a wider range of penalties so that criminal landlords are properly held to account for renting out sub-standard accommodation.

The organisation has also supported in principle Government proposals for a blacklist of persistent criminal landlords to be drawn up.

LGA housing spokesman Cllr 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.

“We know that the majority of tenants in the private rented sector are satisfied with their accommodation, but that shouldn’t distract from the fact there are far too many rogue landlords creating misery for people who often see themselves as having little choice but to put up with it.

“It is no coincidence that problems are more prevalent in areas where economic conditions and the local housing market have driven demand higher than supply and we need to recognise that the real solution is creating conditions where landlords can’t afford to neglect their responsibilities and exploit their tenants.”

In response to the consultation, the LGA has put forward a number of recommendations. These include:

  • The introduction of sentencing guidelines on housing act offences as a priority to ensure consistent and appropriate fines. For more serious housing offences, the Housing Act could be amended to bring in a new range of penalties from a fine up to a community order or custodial sentence.
  • A blacklist of persistent offenders would be useful to councils to support the issuing of licences to landlords and other enforcement work, as long as the administrative burden and cost of compiling a list does not fall on local authorities.
  • The fit and proper person test for landlords should be strengthened to provide a clear framework to remove the uncertainty for councils and landlords and to provide a robust basis for accepting or refusing a licence.
  • Government should amend the notice period and compensation arrangements for Article 4 planning powers so that councils can respond effectively to local concerns over concentrations of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
  • Councils should be given power to direct surplus public land to improve the quality of the private rented sector through large-scale investment.

It cited one of the worst examples of abuse being a case in Wolverhampton where the city council made an emergency prohibition order evacuating tenants from one house because it was so dangerous.

There were 11 serious contraventions, including no electricity, gas, water; fire escapes missing so doors opened on to an outside drop of three storeys; no fire alarm or fire doors. The front door could not be locked and a stranger was found sleeping on a tenant’s sofa. The landlord was fined just £2,600 and the council was left out of pocket by almost £5,500 from costs.


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  1. marcH

    Well Done PIE! You’re now using the term ‘criminal’ as opposed to ‘rogue’ to describe bad landlords – as strongly encouraged by one of the more perceptive posters on this site (not me unfortunately!).

  2. seenitall

    So if the council lets and breaches all these new laws with criminal punishments will bods from the council go to prision?   remember MPs employing illegal workers, im sure some councils will be giving TA to people with no right to rent.    Hope the director of the council has a criminal offense and prison over their head like the rest of us


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