Thursday, 9 January 2014

£1m Awarded to Council to Increase War on Rogue Landlords

The government has awarded Newham Council £1 million to help it continue its fight against rogue landlords.
The local authority successfully applied to the Department for Communities and Local Government for the funds, and, at £1,028m, the payout is the largest yet awarded to any council in the country.
The council has reported great success in combating both rogue landlords and ‘beds in sheds’, and has also brought in the country’s first compulsory borough-wide property licensing scheme, which has resulted in more than 30,000 applications in its first year.
Over the past two years, the council has taken enforcement action against 101 beds in sheds, 114 illegal house conversions into flats and 84 illegal conversions of houses of multiple occupation. Nine outbuildings and 12 flat conversions have been removed and 106 landlords have been successfully prosecuted for planning offences.
The council has identified a further 2,000 cases with planning irregularities which are due to be followed up with enforcement action this year.
Newham will use the new funds to increase both its planning and housing enforcement work, and hopes to improve its property database to ensure activity is targeted on criminal landlords.
Since property licensing was introduced in the borough, 1,997 enforcement visits have been completed on unlicensed properties, 5,078 warning letters have been sent out and 82 cautions have been issued for first time offences.
Additionally, the council is seeking to prosecute 134 landlords under the Housing Act for various offences. The highest fine so far has been £12,000 and at least three notorious portfolio landlords have been refused licences for over 100 properties.
Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, said: “Newham is leading the country when it comes to tackling bad landlords who flout the law. This money will allow us to build on our enforcement work and continue to target the criminal landlords operating within Newham. 
We will never accept the exploitation of some of our most vulnerable residents by unscrupulous landlords who force them to live in dangerous and unacceptable conditions, and we will continue to work to improve the standard of accommodation for all residents across the borough."