New government funding was announced this month allowing councils to bid for a share of a £2 million fund to enable local authorities to increase enforcement action against rogue landlords.
Government figures estimate that there are more than 4.5 million residential properties in the private rental sector in England. 82% of renters say they are happy with their accommodation.
However, there are still significant numbers of landlords who do not employ professional letting agents or choose to rent directly to tenants. It is usually they who are not complying with the law, either through ignorance or wilful neglect.
The government fund aims to help councils combat some of the most common challenges in the private sector. These include:
• Better information on housing stock and the landlords and letting agents operating in their areas
• Data sharing between authorities and agencies to identify and bring together relevant data so that enforcement can be better targeted
• Improving ways of working. These include improving housing-specific legal expertise, in-house communication between teams, and tools and strategies to effectively implement policy
• Innovative software enabling enforcement officer to record findings, gather evidence and generally streamline the whole enforcement process
Also this month the government announced it was prepared to make public details of the so-called Rogues Database. This will mean that a database of rogue landlords and letting agents will now be available for tenants to inspect.
All in all, I see this as a good thing and another step on the way to establishing a fully professional residential letting sector.