Councils urged to make full use of penalties to tackle unscrupulous landlords

More than half of local authorities in England have not issued civil penalties against rogue or criminal landlords in the past three years, according to the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).

Since April 2017, councils across England have been able to issue civil penalties of up to £30,000 for a range of housing offences.

Income received can be re-invested by local authorities to help finance further enforcement against criminal operators who cause harm to tenants and give private renting a bad name.

However, despite this, the results of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from the NRLA show that between 2018/19 and 2020/21, only 130 local authorities in England out of 275 replying to the survey – 47% – had issued any civil penalties.

The findings show that most councils had used only a handful with 71% of all civil penalties issued by just 7% of the local authorities.

Some 40% of councils that had issued civil penalties had issued between just one and five over the past three years.

In total, fewer than 3,200 civil penalties were issued over the last three years by the local authorities responding to the survey. This is despite ministers suggesting during the passage of the legislation to introduce them that there may be 10,500 rogue landlords in operation.

Chris Norris, director of policy and campaigns at the NRLA, said: “Our findings show that most councils are failing to use all the tools available to them to tackle rogue and criminal landlords.

“By failing to apply appropriate sanctions to punish wrongdoing, councils are weakening the principle of deterrence which underpins the civil penalties regime.

“We are calling on all councils to ensure they are making full and proper use of the powers they have to tackle those landlords who cause misery to tenants and bring the sector into disrepute.

“The government’s plans to reform the private rented sector due later this year will mean nothing if changes are not properly enforced.”


Email the story to a friend


  1. Woodentop

    Another one of those stories that does not tell all.


    Councils have a duty to inform landlords of their onerous ways and give them a timed opportunity to get their act together. This in the main results in remedial action by landlords and no further action is required.


    Those that ignore the warning, are then served an enforcement notice and this just about always leads to steps being taken by the landlord and a conviction in court cannot be obtained unless it is ignored.


    So the story should read, how many could be enforced with penalties and how many did councils clean up without the need?

  2. PossessionFriendUK39

    Yes WoodenTop,  another poorly framed approach by the NRLA. The lack of enforcement should be used as an argument AGAINST  Licensing,  and of course,  you would have expected the NRLA  to have focused upon the  number of  SUCCESSFUL  interventions by L.A’s   –    without the need for Formal action.
    Many landlords think the NRLA  have joined forces with the Renter Coalition !

    1. AcornsRNuts

      I thought they had joined them ages ago. Just waiting for the name change.


You must be logged in to report this comment!

Comments are closed.

Thank you for signing up to our newsletter, we have sent you an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Additionally if you would like to create a free EYE account which allows you to comment on news stories and manage your email subscriptions please enter a password below.