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Councils failed to chase rogue landlords for millions in unpaid fines

During 2021 and 2023 £13m worth of civil penalties were issued to rogue landlords by councils, but only £6m has been collected so far, according to data from the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).

In England, local authorities have the power to issue civil penalties worth up to £30,000 for a range of offences committed by rogue landlords. These include not having an up-to-date gas safety certificate, electrical safety breaches, not protecting deposits and breaching the right-to-rent rules.

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The research, which was published yesterday by the NRLA, found that almost half of local authorities have not issued any civil penalties between 2021 and 2023, while 69% had issued five or fewer. However, despite the fines being dealt, councils are yet to collect all the money owed by landlords.

Commenting on the findings, Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said: ‘Rogue and criminal landlords cause misery for their tenants and undermine the reputation of the responsible majority. Tackling them should be a high priority for councils.

‘At a time of tight budgets, it is strange that councils are failing to collect the fines levied on those landlords failing to do the right thing. It makes a mockery of the deterrent such fines should be. It will also come as a bitter blow to the many responsible landlords who comply with, and exceed, their responsibilities – but are subject to licensing regimes and associated fees all the same.’

The figures come as the Renters Reform Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, could offer a series of new offences that can be finable if it is passed.

Following this, the NRLA has raised the question of how able councils will be to use these newly acquired powers when almost half are not using the powers they already have.

Due to councils failures, the NRLA is calling for the creation of a new national chief environmental health officer to lead the charge for improved enforcement against rogue and criminal landlords.

‘It is vital that the Government and councils work together to boost the capacity of enforcement teams to make better use of the existing powers they have to tackle poor-quality housing,’ Beadle said. ‘Without this, additional protections for tenants in the Renters Reform Bill run the risk of being meaningless.’

Images: nattanan23 and Tom Rumble

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