Prosecutions of problem London landlords slump

4 Jan 19

The number of landlords prosecuted by London boroughs for providing substandard accommodation has fallen sharply over the last three years, research has shown.

In 2017-18, the number of private landlords taken to court by councils in the capital fell by 67% compared to 2016-17, according to data from the Residential Landlords Association.

Based on Freedom of Information figures obtained by the RLA, research shows prosecutions of landlords were at their lowest levels for six years in 2017-18.

There were just 49 prosecutions commenced by London boroughs against private landlords in 2017-18 compared to 153 in 2016-17.

Seven boroughs (of the 27 that responded) reported no prosecutions at all in 2017-18. These boroughs were Sutton, Enfield, Wandsworth, the City of London, Lambeth, Merton and Kingston.

Redbridge began the largest number of prosecutions against landlords with eight, followed by seven in Newham and Hounslow on four.

The RLA urged central government to provide councils with the funding required to ensure they can enforce powers at their disposal.

Policy director David Smith said: “Either the number of problem landlords is not has high as some suggest, or councils across London have been unable to enforce the extensive range of powers they already have to root out criminal landlords. This proves that it is not more regulation that is needed but better enforcement of existing laws.

“We call on the government to bring forward a long-term programme of funding for councils to ensure they can properly enforce the powers they have to root out the crooks.”

In April 2017, councils were given powers to issue civil penalties of up to £30,000 against landlords who fail to provide safe and clean housing.

The RLA said that core funding from government will have been cut by 63% in the decade to 2020, impacting things like environmental health, which have responsibility for standards in the rented housing sector.

Responding to the research, Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ executive member for housing and development, said: “The RLA’s research highlights an important issues which is a growing concern for London boroughs and Londoners.

“The research rightly references the 63% funding reduction experienced by London boroughs which has had an impact on our ability to respond to our residents’ needs.

“Without adequate funding and adequate powers London boroughs’ ability to protect communities from criminal landlords is limited. Boroughs are unable to sufficiently recoup the costs taken by criminal landlords.”

The government announced this week that London boroughs will receive a share of a £38m fund to provide accommodation for families facing homelessness.

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