The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) has issued guidance for local authority enforcement officers on the powers and options open to them to tackle rogue landlords.
The MHCLG guidance is aimed at local authority enforcement officers seeking to ‘drive up’ standards in their local areas. The guidance is said to provide a comprehensive, single-source guide for local authority officers to help them to enforce against non-compliant landlords.
The guidance consists of 4 sections. The first is a general introduction.
Section 2 describes principles for assessing and managing a local authority’s private rental sector.
Officers are advised to understand the private rented sector in their local areas. A proactive and reactive inspection and management procedure is encouraged which means they react when complaints are made and intervene prior to issues escalating.
Section 3 describes the wide range of powers that local authorities have to take action against rogue landlords.
This section details the legislation that officers may rely upon when exercising their powers. This includes the Housing Act 2004, Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and the Housing and Planning Act 2016. Inspecting and gaining entry into properties is an important power along with their prosecution powers. Entry can be gained in the event of a complaint and when investigating officers are advised to collect clear and robust evidence where an offence is committed. Matters such as the harassment of tenants, unlawful evictions and licensing contraventions are discussed in detail.
Section 4 – offers practical advice for officers, exploring how action can be taken in a range of scenarios. Common issues are explored and how local authorities have successfully enforced against rogue landlords.
Partner organisations such as the Home Office, Fire and Rescue are detailed. Sharing data and information is an important tool in order to take a proactive approach. The national database of rogue landlords which is designed to keep track of rogue landlords is discussed.
The guidance is quite lengthy but is intended to replace a range of different documents with one comprehensive source. From the perspective of compliant landlords, a more unified and effective local authority enforcement strategy to deal with bad landlords will be welcome.