Over 1,300 complaints and representations have been made about housing conditions in Nottingham’s private rented sector this year, according to latest figures released by the City Council.
A total of 1,310 reports have been made to the Council so far in 2014/15, already an increase of more than 50% on 2008/09.
Dangerous electrical wiring, cockroach infestations, smoke alarms not working and lack of windows, ventilation or safe escape are some the problems dealt with by the Council which is calling on tenants to share photos and videos of the poor conditions they are having to live in via social media sites twitter and Facebook.
The Council has made improving the quality and safety of privately rented accommodation in the city a priority over the last few years, launching three major new initiatives – a Rogue Landlord campaign, the Nottingham Standard landlord accreditation mark and a new additional licensing scheme for rented houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
Since the Rogue Landlord campaign was launched in February 2014, the Council/Police partnership Nottingham Community Protection has served over 240 statutory notices on landlords who failed to provide essential information about their properties.
Ten Emergency Prohibition Orders and eight Prohibition Orders have been served on landlords to safeguard tenants exposed to unacceptable risks found during inspections.
A recent case involved the landlord of rented accommodation on Mansfield Road who was prosecuted for failure to licence and poor management including allowing a cockroach infestation to affect the property for at least six months and letting an unsafe basement to two adults with a young child. Emergency prohibition of the basement was undertaken due to unsafe conditions such as no safe escape and lack of windows and ventilation.
The total fine for the landlord was over £20,000. This covered offences for failure to licence 3 HMOs and for not managing two of the properties properly putting tenant’s health, safety and welfare at risk.
The Nottingham Standard is an accreditation mark that unites landlord accreditation schemes in the city. Developed in partnership with the DASH (Decent and Safe Homes) Services and Unipol landlord accreditation schemes, the Nottingham Standard aims to take away much of the uncertainty that goes with private renting by assuring tenants that private rented properties meet a minimum standard.
The Council’s additional licensing scheme was introduced in January 2014 to ensure that privately rented houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in a significant part of the city centre and inner city area are managed properly and meet basic standards for quality and safety. The scheme is also at helping to reduce complaints about noise, rubbish, and other anti-social behaviour.
Last week, an attempt by East Midlands Property Owners Ltd to seek a judicial review of the scheme was refused by a High Court judge who ruled that it was rational and reasonable and that there were no grounds for a challenge.
City Council Leader, Councillor Jon Collins said: “The Council is absolutely committed to raising the standard of privately rented accommodation in the city and tackling any landlords who let housing in poor condition.”
“Many landlords meet their legal responsibility to provide a decent standard of accommodation but there are some shocking cases where we have had to take action against landlords prepared to allow tenants to live in properties that are frankly squalid and unsafe.
“Unfortunately it’s an increasing problem, as reflected in the growing number of complaints we are receiving, which is why we have initiatives in place to tackle rogue landlords and support better quality privately rented accommodation in the city.”
If you are a tenant and think that your property should be licensed or have other concerns about your accommodation, you can report it via twitter @nottmrenters or Facebook at /NottinghamRenters
Alternatively, tenants phone 0115 9152020 or report a rogue landlord online at http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/article/29046/Report-a-rogue-landlord-or-problem-with-your-private-rented-property
Failure to apply for a licence can lead to a fine of up to £20,000 for landlords if found guilty by the courts. If a landlord is found guilty, the tenants can apply for their rent back through a tribunal (known as a rent repayment order). This can be for up to a year’s worth of rent.
To find out about the Nottingham Standard, visit www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/nottinghamstandard