Enforcement not legislation – PRS Hit Squads

Enforcement not legislation – PRS Hit Squads

14:14 PM, 2nd October 2013, About 8 years ago 64

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There is already more than enough funding and legislation to police the Private Rented Sector.

The last thing we need is more legislation, what everybody wants is enforcement and word on the street is that we could begin to see it before the end of 2013. Ben-Reeve-Lewis

PRS Hit Squads

The authorities all know who the real criminals are and the only reason the criminals are still in business is because those holding power don’t combine resources, in fact they rarely talk to each other. Until now they have all run scared of “data sharing protocols” but when that’s put to one side expect to see some very big cases of criminal landlords being taken to task.

I have heard that PRS Hit Squads will target known criminal landlords between now and Christmas and are supported “in principle” by the likes of Mark Prisk, Boris Johnson and others who openly admit to not being fans of the licensing model being operated in Newham. I’ve also heard that six figure funding for a trial has been agreed at ministerial level.

These “PRS Hit Squads” as I’ve labelled them will comprise of:-

  • Environmental heath
  • HMO licensing
  • Planning
  • Anti social behaviour teams
  • EDF revenue
  • Building contol
  • UKBA
  • Police

The plan is that they will share intelligence and converge on criminal landlords in a military style operation, focussing on the worst operators first of course. With their combined resources the criminals will not stand a chance. It will be like a man with a pea shooter trying to fend off the SAS 🙂

Beware the Spin Doctors!

My hope is that the PR outcome of the PRS Hit Squad successes will be positive and support the need for the model to be extended nationally. It is a very low cost model and the results should save the tax payer money as well as improving peoples lives (unless you are one of the targeted criminals of course!). The last thing the PRS needs is for the successes to be used as justification for more regulation. The spin doctors will see this as an opportunity to justify schemes such as Newham but this must not be allowed to happen.

Landlords can be victims too

Landlords are also the victims of criminals and I have seen some very sad examples of that. A recent case in the Fens involved a landlord who let his former home to a Gang-master. Unbeknown to him the unregulated Gang-master then allowed 20 immigrant farm workers to live in the property, all sleeping on mattresses on the floor. When the landlord found out he obviously wanted them out ASAP, as did the neighbours of pretty culdesac in which the landlords 4 bad detached property was located but the law stood in the way. Had the landlord been able to go to the authorities, secure in the knowledge they would fight for him, it would have been a Godsend to him. Instead, the authorities are threatening the landlord and not the Gangmaster! Clearly common sense isn’t that common.

Let’s hope the PRS Hit Squads are successful in taking down criminals and then lend a much needed helping hand to landlords who are also targeted by criminals. If common sense prevails we might just see more action and less talk. When all is said and done, more is said than done, but fingers crossed let’s hope that not the case here.

The Highland Fling

Earlier this year the Scottish Association of Landlords reported that landlord registration in Scotland has cost landlords £11.2 million in fees while the start-up Scottish Government grant for the scheme was £5.2 million. According to the results, since 2006 there have only been 40 rogue landlords identified as operating in Scotland, that’s the number of rejected applications. The cost equates to £400,000 per rogue identified!

Summary

The schemes in Newham and its copycats also show signs of being similar “White Elephants”, therefore I’m pinning my hopes on the PRS Hit Squads taking down as many criminals as possible, proving once and for all that it’s more enforcement not legislation we need. Enforcement not legislation - PRS Hit Squads



Comments

by Ian Ringrose

18:21 PM, 6th November 2013, About 8 years ago

Keep up the good work, but please don’t make it too hard for these criminals to operate in London before training Stockport in how do run the same system!

by Ben Reeve-Lewis

20:28 PM, 6th November 2013, About 8 years ago

Ian I am hoping to either drive these parasites out of business or at least out of my area. If they fetch up in Stockport let me know haha

This week I have been building links across borough boundaries, as these criminals dont just operate in one area and it's been brilliant, sitting around the table with planning enforcement, Housing benefit, Building Control and EDF Revenue protection from several London boroughs swapping information and it's been quite a find.

Today we found a property owner in our borough who lets his property out through one of our criminal landlords to a mate of his who crams 10 people into a 4 bed house. So far so normal but in having collegaues from another authority around the table we found that the same property owner is himself claiming housing benefit in their borough as a fictituous tenant in a property owned by the other guy who rents his house out as an agent in our borough. Prosecutions for fraud are in the pipeline as we speak.

Also EDF were able to tell us that one of his properties they have on file is running @ 50 Units a week....normal use is around 15, which is a classic sign of an operating canabbis factory. HB Fraud? Yep and get ready for a dawn raid by cops, EDF and me too.

This guy has 25 properties that we now know about and are closing in on from a variety of angles. We dont need licensing. We know out villains and all enforcement officer from within and without the council share information and resources, so they cant even breathe without our growing network knowing all about it. We all have each other's personal emails and phone numbers so we can bypass the usual red tape and even call each other at 9PM if need be. Good committed people whose job doesnt end at 5pm.

And amazingly, this costs the council tax payer zero. Information sharing, joined up working/thinking, pooling resources gets us what we want. We take the bad guys off the board and protect the citizens of our borough and neighbouring ones too. And I've only been in post 3 weeks haha

by Ed Atkinson

21:55 PM, 6th November 2013, About 8 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ben Reeve-Lewis" at "06/11/2013 - 20:28":

This is great. Well done to you and all the informal team. Brilliant

by Ben Reeve-Lewis

22:11 PM, 7th November 2013, About 8 years ago

All council stuff is political at some level or other. Us lot who work the frontline dont think that way. We spend our lived just trying to do our jobs without covering our backs or thinking about career advancement.

I swear to god guys, if you lot sat in a case meeting with us enforcement types you would be behind us 100%. We want what you want. On a personal level we are sick of seeing villains stick two fingers up because the bureaucracy gets in the way. Everyone I have met from a variety of councils and external organisations are excited about how partnering up can get us somewhere because we deal with the realities day in day out. We know where the gaps and pitfalls are and we know how to sort them.

Newham's scheme is entirely politically driven, not pragmatically driven.

The challenge for me is developing the model of inter-departmental and cross borough information exchange and enforcement action. Finding ways around the apathy of teams worn down by staff cuts, red tape and data sharing protocols and developing a forward thinking 'Can do' approach.

I dint care if that criminal landlords beats his tenants up, steals their deposits, runs unlicensed HMOs gets away with all of it if he only gets done for tax fraud. I dont care what they get done for as long as they get done and taken off the board

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