Research lays bare failure to tackle criminal landlords

Research lays bare failure to tackle criminal landlords

0:01 AM, 12th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago 13

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Two thirds of English councils have prosecuted no landlords for offences related to standards in or the management of private rented housing over the last three years.

 The National Residential Landlords Association is warning that this failure to take action against the criminal minority brings the sector into disrepute and risks undermining further reform of the sector.

The NRLA obtained the data via Freedom of Information Act requests from 283 local authorities across England. In the three years between 2018/2019 and 2020/21, 67 per cent had not successfully prosecuted a landlord for offences related to standards in or the management of private rented housing. A further 10 per cent had secured just one successful prosecution.

Overall, just 20 local authorities were responsible for 77 per cent of all successful prosecutions. The three local authorities with the highest number of prosecutions (Southwark, Birmingham and Hull) were responsible for 38 per cent of all such action across England. Of these, Birmingham and Hull had no local landlord licencing scheme in place.

Among those councils responding, just 937 successful prosecutions of criminal landlords had taken place over the past three years. This is despite government estimates in 2015 that there may be around 10,500 rogue landlords in operation.

The new data follows research published earlier this year by the NRLA which showed that over the same three years, 53 per cent of English councils had issued no civil penalties against private landlords.

Whilst the Government has pledged to publish a white paper on reform of the private rented sector next year, the NRLA is warning that a failure to enforce the wide range of powers already available to tackle criminal and rogue landlords will critically undermine further reform.

The NRLA is calling on the Government to provide councils with the multi-year funding needed to ensure they are properly resourced to take action against criminal landlords. According to research by Unchecked UK the amount spent on housing standards by local authorities in England fell by 45 per cent between 2009 and 2019.

This must, the NRLA argues, happen alongside a requirement for councils to publish details of formal and informal enforcement activity against private landlords on an annual basis. This is vital to ensuring that they can be held to account for efforts to tackle criminal and rogue landlords.

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said: “The vast majority of responsible landlords are sick and tired of a failure to root out the minority who bring the sector into disrepute. The problem is not a lack of powers, but a failure by councils to enforce them properly.

“Whilst ensuring councils have the resources they need is vital, so too is the need for them to be more transparent about the levels of enforcement they are taking. In short, local authorities need to prioritise activity to find and root out criminal landlords, ensuring it is they who meet the costs of such efforts.

“Our research illustrates also that there is no clear link between the existence of a landlord licensing scheme and levels of prosecutions. Councils again need to be open with tenants and landlords about how such schemes are ensuring standards are met in rental housing.”



Comments

by DSR

12:06 PM, 12th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago

Thanks for this. I shall be using this info as a direct quote for my reply to the consultation in regard to the selective licencing 'idea' applicable to ALL PRS housing in B'ham.

by Ian Narbeth

16:12 PM, 12th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago

What is the NRLA up to? "The three local authorities with the highest number of prosecutions (Southwark, Birmingham and Hull) were responsible for 38 per cent of all such action across England. Of these, Birmingham and Hull had no local landlord licencing scheme in place."

They go on to say: "“Our research illustrates also that there is no clear link between the existence of a landlord licensing scheme and levels of prosecutions." So do they want more licensing or not?

I am a professional landlord and licensed as an HMO landlord and that's fine because of the extra rules that necessarily apply to HMOs.

However, it is another thing altogether for small landlords who may own just one or two BTL properties. The costs of licensing are often disproportionate and innocent mistakes with paperwork can be punished harshly.

I wish the NRLA would do more to assist landlords with tenants from hell and to lobby for help for those landlords who have not been paid during the pandemic.

Asking that the Government/Councils give some landlords a good kicking because they are rogues may backfire. Those in authority may kick the easiest and softest targets!

by Jessie Jones

8:16 AM, 13th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago

'Rogue Landlords' is clearly a much smaller issue than the media would have us believe, but the NRLA seem reluctant to say this.
Nottingham City introduced Selective Licensing 3 years ago, and have taken about £24,000,000 in fees for about 26,000 properties (very rough figures as they are not keen on transparency). In this time, the majority of prosecutions have been for failing to have a license. Not for having dangerous or unfit properties.
The £26million has to be ring fenced, and cannot be used for other council expenditure. So despite Nottingham City Council having £26 million to investigate poor housing, and 24,000 properties to inspect they have found scant evidence of 'rogue landlords' as the media would have us believe is rife.
They have discovered a property with properly dangerous electrics, and one with an uneven back patio, but otherwise there has been one cracked electric socket, smoke detectors that the tenant removed, a cracked window and an insecure garden gate. Oh, and wheelie bins without lids.
I am not saying that there aren't any slum landlords, but the number is very, very small.

by Seething Landlord

15:15 PM, 13th November 2021, About 3 weeks ago

This is perhaps the most ridiculous and selective statistical analysis I can recall.

"government estimates in 2015 that there may be around 10,500 rogue landlords in operation" - based on what? Even if correct, it represents just 0.42% of landlords i.e. 42 per TEN THOUSAND. How do they define "rogue"? Without further explanation It is a meaningless term. What are the characteristics that identify these people?

It is a tiny proportion and when allowance is made for the large numbers of landlords and probable concentration of "rogues" in the major conurbations it is hardly surprising that many LAs have not brought prosecutions.

NRLA have lost the plot with their constant banging on at Government to root out offenders. For LAs it must be like looking for a needle in a haystack if they are expected to be proactive rather than reactive.

The next stage will be for LAs to be set targets for prosecutions so say goodbye to friendly advice and penalties being reserved as the last resort. As has already been said, it is not the out and out rogues who deliberately flout the regulations who will suffer, it is those who innocently commit minor offences through ignorance or misunderstanding.

by Mike

16:40 PM, 15th November 2021, About 2 weeks ago

These are all the tools to drive rents sky high, if NRLA or Local authorities desire that we landlords offer highest level of rental accommodation, with absolute zero intolerance towards minor issues, then if we were all to offer 5 Star accommodations, then it is very likely that rents will shoot through the roof as landlords will have to spend thousands of pounds to upgrade properties to the highest standards.
Imagine if you went abroad on a holiday with a limited budget, you wanted to check in a reasonable cheap hotel, like 2 star, or a B&B, as that is what is confined within your budget, you may not care less of the accommodation offered is a little sub-standard, slightly dirty but perfectly safe and livable, but if in that holiday town all hotels were 5 star, you will then have no choice other than to spend all your cash on hotel accommodation ans go without proper meals whilst on a vacation.
There are 5 star hotels, there are even 7 star hotels, there are B&Bs, all different to suit a budget, so if councils want us to all offer highest standard accommodations, where will those tenants go who cannot afford higher rents? Can NRLA answer this damn question?

That is why I have not taken a holiday in Monaco !
And note if you are a tenant, they are the reason why rents are higher, not us greedy landlords.

by Ian Narbeth

16:56 PM, 15th November 2021, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Mike at 15/11/2021 - 16:40
Excellent points Mike. The "best quality" anything at the "lowest price" doesn't exist. An additional problem is that house prices in many (popular) areas have increased much faster compared to some other areas and rents have also gone up accordingly.

I don't know what the Government's plan is but driving out the small landlords who provide individual houses won't help. The corporate landlords and the Buy to Let companies are not interested in a terraced house in a rundown town let to someone with a mediocre credit rating. AS you rightly say: "where will those tenants go who cannot afford higher rents?"

by Mick Roberts

18:00 PM, 15th November 2021, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Jessie Jones at 13/11/2021 - 08:16
Well said Jesse on Nottingham Council Selective Licensing.
Some of my notes below on Nottingham from several months ago which I don't mind repeating if anyone can get info from it.

Nottingham Selective Licensing has inspected 600 houses in 3 years with 76 staff. 1 man in a MOT station could have inspected 6240 cars in that time.

Nottingham Selective Licensing has just published their mid scheme review.

They inspecting on average 3 houses per year per member of staff. Most businesses would go bust at that rate.

So 1 staff is doing 1 inspection every 4 months. How is that improving houses.

270 houses improved.
22000 applications at an average of let's say £700 per license.
£15.5 million from licence payers from tenants rent increases to fix 270 houses. That's approximately £57,000 the Council has took off Nottingham tenants to improve each house. When some of the improvements may have actually cost £50.
Had licensing not been introduced the Council would still have improved roughly 270 houses (which sounds low anyway).

600 houses inspected in 3 years with 76 staff. 1 man in an MOT station could have inspected 6240 cars in that time.
76 men could have inspected 474,000 cars in that time.

https://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/media/3371933/selective-licensing-mid-scheme-review.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3j6UMPZx8D3zDzZKhwFOTPSU-jbsM9xioHM2uNaM0-OrdMW0305QcVHDc

by Mick Roberts

18:07 PM, 15th November 2021, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 15/11/2021 - 16:56
Well siad Ian, Mike.and Seething.
The "best quality" anything at the "lowest price" doesn't exist.

They want New build standards, but forget people want a choice and most certainly Benefit rents don't pay for New Build standards.

My first conversation with head of Nottingham Council Selective Licensing boss.
He said on Thumbturns 'Well New builds have got em.
I said Bingo.
He said What.
I said We ain't got New build houses. I do have one New build and it's WAY MORE rent than the others.

They have no clue. Think Landlords can just pay as we all wealthy. We might have made some'at after 20 years of having nothing and going without to make sure tenant has home, and then eventually we get some'at out of it. But I ain't going without for 20 years to then give it all up at end.
And many landlords have made nothing and still making nothing.
Gratification postponement.
Take the bus for ten years, taxi for ....years
Do the Council want to retrospectively pay us for our years of losses in the early days? No.

by Ian Narbeth

18:19 PM, 15th November 2021, About 2 weeks ago

Reply to the comment left by Mick Roberts at 15/11/2021 - 18:00
Interesting to skim read Nottingham's report. 19,951 licences issued.

53 Civil penalty notices issued 37 of which were failure to licence under Selective Licensing. So only 16 otherwise. that is fewer than 1 in a 1000.

13 Landlords prosecuted for 49 offences at 30 properties (27 of these offences relate to Selective Licensing). So 22 offences not relating to licensing. Doesn't look like many Rachmans are operating there.

by terry sullivan

18:45 PM, 15th November 2021, About 2 weeks ago

is there any point in nrla membership?

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