The relationship between councils and private sector landlords is set to become a major scandal, akin to the Post Office controversy, according to Des Taylor, a director at Landlord Licensing & Defence. Taylor argues that local housing authorities frequently let down tenants by failing to maintain their properties while unjustly targeting private landlords with harsh enforcement and licensing.
“Councils are the next Post Office scandal – the makings are all there,” Taylor asserts, criticising local authorities for their double standards. He accuses them of neglecting essential repairs and allowing anti-social behaviour to persist in their housing stock, yet penalising private landlords for similar issues that are out of their control.
Highlighting a specific instance of council negligence, Taylor refers to a £18,800 compensation order issued by the Housing Ombudsman against Waltham Forest Council. This penalty was for failing to address severe mould and damp in a tenant’s home for 11 months, despite repeated requests for repairs.
“It is disgraceful that they would ignore a tenant’s plea for help and not do the repair,” Taylor remarks. He contrasts this with the aggressive tactics councils employ against private landlords, including issuing abatement and improvement notices, and initiating legal action for non-compliance.
Furthermore, Taylor criticises councils for setting traps for landlords through misleading advice and imposing unfair licensing conditions. He mentions an instance where a council advisor suggested a landlord allow subletting, potentially breaching local planning and licensing regulations.
Taylor also points out the stringent regulatory environment in areas like Waltham Forest, where selective licensing imposes onerous conditions on landlords, including the responsibility for preventing anti-social behaviour—a task he claims councils and police fail to manage effectively.
Calling for a public inquiry into the conduct of local housing authorities, Taylor argues that many landlords are unfairly punished for minor infractions, while councils operate with impunity. “These articles show that the CEOs of these authorities are asleep at the wheel and incompetent,” he states, advocating for accountability and reform in how councils interact with the private rented sector.
Taylor’s stark warning underscores a deep-seated issue within the housing sector, demanding attention and action to ensure fairness and justice for both landlords and tenants.