Nottingham City Council has joined calls for the national government to step up its protection of families in private rented properties.
A joint investigation by The Guardian and ITV news has this week shone a spotlight on the extent of the problem of rogue landlords renting out unsafe properties to tenants.
Nottingham City Council’s Safer Housing team served an Emergency Prohibition Order on a property in Nottingham earlier this week, where a family including three children aged two, four and six were living in incredibly dangerous conditions. The council has taken action to require the landlord to carry out a schedule of works to complete to make the property safe.
The property has:
- No hot water or heating
- Live electric sockets hanging off the walls
- A broken front door that can’t be locked
- No working smoke alarms.
Councillor Toby Neal said: “This is a nightmare property. It’s sheer luck that one or all of the tenants weren’t killed. I’m proud that our Safer Housing team has been able to intervene to get this family out of an incredibly dangerous situation.
“Our new Selective Licensing scheme, which we petitioned the Government to introduce, gives us further powers to step in and protect tenants. In Nottingham, 15,000 landlords now need a licence to operate – which crucially can be revoked if they are putting tenants at risk. We call on the Government to overhaul the current legislation and give all local councils the powers and resources they need to protect tenants.
“This landlord will now go to the top of the list to be dealt with by our Selective Licensing team – as well as being eligible for penalties of £30,000 it’s extremely unlikely that someone who has let out a property in this kind of condition will be given a licence to manage properties in the future.”
News in The Guardian this week revealed that 53 councils have not prosecuted a landlord in the past three years. Nottingham prosecuted 11 landlords between 2016 and 2018, leading to fines of £68,000.
In the 2017/18 financial year, Nottingham City Council’s Safer Housing team inspected over one thousand (1098) properties. The team takes reports from tenants and other members of the public via phone (0115 9152020 option 3) and by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Since 1 April this year, the Council’s Safer Housing team has taken emergency action to protect tenants in nine dangerous properties, as well as serving seven Civil Penalties for offences under the Housing Act.
Nottingham became only the third area in the UK to introduce (from 1 August 2018) a Selective Licensing scheme, after Nottingham City Council went to court to gain the powers needed to protect tenants. It allows the council to tackle the estimated 21% of Nottingham’s private rented homes that have a ‘Category 1’ hazards including exposed wiring, fire hazards, dangerous boilers, cold bedrooms, leaking roofs, or vermin infestation.
Selective licensing now covers 90% of the private rental properties in Nottingham:
- 15,000 landlords now need a licence to operate – which crucially can be revoked if they are putting tenants at risk
- Landlords pay a licence fee of between £480 – £780 every five years
- The income from the scheme can only be used to administer it
- Tenants can claim rent back from landlords who have failed to either licence their property, or to keep it in a decent condition
- Failure to apply for a licence means landlords are eligible for penalties of £30,000