An investigation by The Guardian newspaper and ITV has uncovered how rogue landlords are continuing to collect rent from tenants despite prosecutions for housing offences and the failure to pass the so called “fit and proper” person test.
It was also revealed that local authorities had failed to provide a single entry on the governments newly created rogue landlord database and the fact that many local authorities had high numbers of properties classed as “non-decent” in their regions, more than one in seven had failed to prosecute a single “bad” landlord in the past three years.
So it is timely that a private member’s bill, introduced by the Labour backbencher Karen Buck, has now received cross-party support, ensuring its passage to the House of Lords.
Prior to the bill, a landlord was only deemed to have committed an offence if they failed to comply with a local authority enforcement notice.
Many council enforcement teams have undeniably poor records when it comes to taking on a prosecuting rogue landlords who continue to rent our flats and rooms that a clearly unfit for habitation.
Freedom of information requests made by Karen Buck had found that councils only brought enforcement action in 1% of cases, relating to the most serious hazards.
Tenants themselves could do nothing directly in regards to seeking an improvement in poor living conditions from their landlord.
This new bill will allow tenants to bypass these teams and take on landlords directly. It will also provide council tenants with the opportunity to seek redress. Something that wasn’t previously possible given the fact that local authorities cannot bring cases against themselves.
The bill is expected to become law in the early part of 2019 and will apply to new tenancy agreements as well as existing social tenancies after a 12-month period.
Tenants in England will be able to force landlords to address any issues that make their home “unfit”, with the opportunity to seek compensation, if the work is not carried out in an appropriate and timely manner.