More than 50 councils across England will receive almost £2.4 million to crack down on rogue landlords.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has assigned the funding to help councils increase action against criminal landlords. Councils will be ‘encouraged’ to report back to share best practice and new approaches to improved enforcement.
Housing minister Heather Wheeler said: ‘This extra funding will further boost councils’ ability to root out rogue landlords and ensure that poor-quality homes in the area are improved, making the housing market fairer for everyone.
‘The government has already equipped local authorities with strong powers to tackle criminal landlords, ranging from fines to outright bans for the worst offenders.’
The funding is expected to be used on a range of initiatives, including boosting short-term staffing, creating digital housing tools, and helping build relationships with external organisations such as the emergency services, legal services and local housing advocates. Some councils may use the funds to support tenants to take action against poor standards through rent repayment orders.
Wheeler added: ‘This builds on ongoing government action to drive up standards in the private rented sector – ensuring millions of hard-working tenants can live in the homes they deserve and creating a housing market that works for everyone.’
Cllr Judith Blake, housing spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: ‘The vast majority of landlords are responsible and provide decent housing for their tenants, however the reputations of that majority are being tarnished by the small minority of landlords who exploit loopholes with no regard to their responsibilities.
‘Councils want to support a good quality local private rented offer in their communities, but can be held back by significant funding pressures and uncertainty.
‘It is therefore good that the government has announced a funding boost for councils to help ensure the small minority of rogue landlords improve standards.
‘We ask that the government now follows this announcement by granting more freedom for councils to establish local licensing schemes.’
The Greater London Authority and Greater Manchester Combined Authority have been given over £330,000 between them. They will coordinate work to tackle rogue landlords operating across multiple local authorities in their regions.
Walsall Council has also been given extra funding, which it will use it to improve cross-agency enforcement work using drones and thermal mapping to identify problem properties. Lancaster City Council, meanwhile, plans to create a training programme for existing enforcement staff.