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NRLA chides councils for enforcement failures

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Over half of local authorities in England have not issued any civil penalties against rogue or criminal landlords in the last three years, the National Residential Landlords Association has reported.

The findings come from responses to Freedom of Information requests from the association. These revealed that between 2018/19 and 2020/21, only 130 local authorities in England issued any civil penalties. Most that had, had issued only a handful of penalties; 40 per cent said the number was between one and five.

The net result was that 71 per cent of all civil penalties had been issued by just seven per cent of local authorities. 

In total, fewer than 3,200 civil penalties had been issued over the last three years by the 275 local authorities replying to the NRLA’s requests. This is despite government suggestions that there may be as many as 10,500 ‘rogue landlords’.

Since April 2017 councils across England have been able to issue civil penalties of up to £30,000 for a range of housing offences. Income received can be re-invested by local authorities to help finance further enforcement against criminal operators who cause harm to tenants and give private renting a bad name. 

‘Our findings show that most councils are failing to use all the tools available to them to tackle rogue and criminal landlords’, said NRLA director or policy and campaigns, Chris Norris.

‘By failing to apply appropriate sanctions to punish wrongdoing, councils are weakening the principle of deterrence which underpins the civil penalties regime.

‘We are calling on all councils to ensure they are making full and proper use of the powers they have to tackle those landlords who cause misery to tenants and bring the sector into disrepute.

‘The Government’s plans to reform the private rented sector due later this year will mean nothing if changes are not properly enforced’.