When is a rogue landlord, not a rogue landlord?

When is a rogue landlord, not a rogue landlord?

9:57 AM, 18th April 2023, About A year ago 10

Text Size

We often see the term ‘rogue landlord’ bandied about, but a story last week got me thinking: When is a rogue landlord, not a rogue landlord?’

It would appear that most people would think it was a term to describe a landlord who let a home without a roof, didn’t fix a leaking gas pipe or encouraged the growth of mould.

And, in case you didn’t know, the government has defined what a ‘rogue landlord’ is with The Deposit Service reporting it is:

“The term ‘rogue landlord’ is widely understood in the lettings industry to describe a landlord who knowingly flouts their obligations by renting out unsafe and substandard accommodation to tenants, many of whom may be vulnerable. The Housing and Planning Bill contains a number of measures to help local authorities crack down on rogue landlords and force them to either improve or leave the sector.”

Well, that’s good to know and I suppose most landlords would agree with that definition.

Except, I suspect, when the term has a more liberal interpretation.

Fines that have been levied on landlords

I raise this as a potential issue because there was a story on Property118 about the rising level of fines that have been levied on landlords in London under selective and additional licensing schemes.

The firm behind the research obviously defines these landlords as rogue landlords because they have been fined. But using the same criteria in their research, they refer to letting agents who have been fined but not as ‘rogue letting agents’. Why? Why aren’t they the same?

However, that detracts from the argument that I’m about to make because the term rogue landlord is being misused in the circumstances and here’s why:

  • Firstly, a landlord being fined under selective licensing rules may not be a rogue landlord as defined above because they are renting out unsafe and substandard accommodation. Rather, I feel, the landlord has fallen foul of a minor issue and has been lumbered with a massive fine. They weren’t rogue landlords before the fine, and I doubt very much whether they are a rogue landlord after the fine.
  • Secondly, the term rogue landlord in this scenario is deeply insulting since most of us are responsible landlords who want to offer quality homes for rent. Because a landlord has been fined, does not detract from their intention to deliver a safe and comfortable home. Though I doubt very much whether a landlord who gets hit with a huge fine will have the heart for continuing in the private rented sector. And who could blame them?

What is considered to be a minor infringement

I’m concerned that councils get to levy a fine – and it could be up to £30,000 – for what is considered to be a minor infringement. But the council’s own housing stock is probably in a much worse state, so where are their fines? Where is the public humiliation of councils and housing officers not meeting their legal responsibilities?

And I do have an issue with the number of fines increasing which gives the impression that the sector is riddled with rogue landlords and poor housing when it isn’t.

I also have an issue with councils imposing a selective licensing scheme and then using it as a cash machine for their own needs.

To my mind, landlords have been looking at selective licensing from the wrong angle. Yes, it is expensive and a waste of time (mostly), but the councils say they can’t make any money from the fees.

However, they CAN and DO make money from the fines they impose.

That means that selective licensing schemes are nothing but a Trojan horse to shake down landlords.

Proposed Renters’ Reform Bill

Which brings me quite nicely to the proposed property portal as part of the proposed Renters’ Reform Bill.

Can you imagine after years, if not decades, of offering quality homes for rent as a landlord, that your name turns up on the property portal’s register of rogue landlords?

It’s not hard to imagine that a tenant causes a mould problem in your property, a council inspection then says you are responsible, and hey presto, you are thousands of pounds lighter, and your name ends up on a rogue landlord’s database.

This is then used by local authorities and tenants and your good name and reputation has been besmirched due to circumstances beyond your control.

I am fully on board with having a rogue tenants database because there are undoubtedly renters out there who couldn’t care less about a landlord’s property.

But that won’t happen because all landlords are bad in the eyes of the media and government.

Councils won’t investigate the real criminal landlords

Property118 has already revealed that councils won’t investigate the real criminal landlords because of the risks they run – instead, it is decent law-abiding landlords that become the easy prey.

Why do we bother? Why do we try to improve our financial circumstances – usually our pension pot – to meet a housing need and then get vilified for it?

Claiming a decent person who is fined for a minor infringement is suddenly a rogue landlord is not only insulting and demeaning but also self-defeating.

Why should we put up with this? Without us, the councils would struggle to house everyone who needs to rent a home.

By all means, fine and penalise criminal landlords who deserve to be hit financially, but please try to work with decent landlords who will be mortified to be labelled as a rogue landlord.

Above all else, put your own house in order first before you criticise others because there are many councils and social housing providers who deserve to be called rogue landlords who get away Scott-free.

We aren’t rogue landlords, and we should be up in arms about being tarred with this brush, but real criminal landlords and lots of social housing providers are the real rogues here and they deserve to be humiliated.

If it is going to be easy to get named on the proposed property portal, then expect good, decent landlords to sell up and leave. You’ll miss us then.

Until next time,

The Landlord Crusader

Share This Article


Judith Wordsworth

10:16 AM, 18th April 2023, About A year ago

Well said.

Interesting London Borough of Croydon is not allowed, by government decision, to renew their Selective Licensing scheme. Monies raised from Licence fees, which are statutorily only to be used to run and enforce such schemes, was untraceable!

Even though their literature clearly stated that the scheme was to help/provide advice/assistance to both tenants AND landlords I only got assistance after threatening to "see them in court for breach of contract".

Adam Smith

10:22 AM, 18th April 2023, About A year ago

All of this is the result of politicians pandering to special interest groups and bigotry, taking the easy option of more regulation and ignoring the facts. It is also the reason that I am getting out of the PRS after 23 years, with a file of letters and emails from grateful tenants. When my 30 or so tenants they get their notices they will also get my explanation of how we landlords now operate in a hostile environment and I will wish them luck in finding somewhere else to live.


10:36 AM, 18th April 2023, About A year ago

A rogue landlord is one that doesnt declare he is a landlord or pay tax. He is one that doesn't get gas serviced or EICR. He is one that doesnt do repairs. He is one that accepts payment in cash and doesnt declare it.


11:28 AM, 18th April 2023, About A year ago

Good article. The term rogue is not being applied consistently.

We definitely have rogue council's.
We should refer to them as such!

Luke P

12:12 PM, 18th April 2023, About A year ago

Aren't most Selective Licensing fines for paperwork errors rather than actual problems with the properties themselves...?


16:55 PM, 18th April 2023, About A year ago

A 30,000 fine would leave me unable to carry out repairs to other properties which then leaves them open for yet more fines and so it goes on! If I end up in a shop doorway - are they checked for - draughts - damp - cold - filth? I doubt it! Perfect answer - buy up as many shop doorways as possible as they’re obviously exempt!

Reluctant Landlord

17:00 PM, 18th April 2023, About A year ago

difficult to know. Where SL is in place, the info on this is lacking....

Who does the stats? The Council. Who is creaming the money in from SL? The Council. Says it all.....


17:47 PM, 18th April 2023, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by DSR at 18/04/2023 - 17:00
What you say is very true. Licensing areas are not published in my area? I had to do constant research to find out I would shortly need a license - and they don’t make it easy for obvious reasons. My advice to all - check because they don’t tell you it’s coming!

Reluctant Landlord

9:32 AM, 19th April 2023, About A year ago

trick question. All Landlords are rogue. The government says so, so it must be true as everyone believes them...

Michael Barnes

23:29 PM, 22nd April 2023, About A year ago

You talk about "minor infringements", but nowhere do you identify what you consider to be minor infringements that have resulted in a landlord being labelled "rogue".

Leave Comments

In order to post comments you will need to Sign In or Sign Up for a FREE Membership


Don't have an account? Sign Up

Landlord Tax Planning Book Now