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The UK government has produced £4 million to help local authorities tackle criminal landlords and letting agents.
Announced by housing secretary Robert Jenrick, the funds will be spread over more than 100 councils which they can use to pay for “enforcement action against these [criminal] landlords, and advise tenants of their housing rights”.
According to the government, the cash continues its “ongoing work to make the private rented sector fairer and stamp out criminal practices for good”.
Those benefitting from the fund include 21 councils across Yorkshire and Humberside (where over 100 enforcement officers will be trained); Northampton (where a ‘Special Operations Unit’ will be created); Thurrock (to help the care service ensure vulnerable young tenants are in decent homes); and Greenwich (to trial new technology to identify particularly cold homes).
However, Labour has called the funding “puny” and “a drop in the ocean compared with the cuts that councils have faced since 2010”. The party added that the government’s cuts have “gifted rogue landlords the freedom to flourish, by cutting council budgets, weakening their powers and refusing to legislate to drive up standards”.
Let’s do some maths: the government says “over 100” councils will receive a share of the £4m. Keeping it at 100 – let’s get the calculator out – means they’ll get £40,000 each, perhaps far less depending on how many over 100 “over 100” means.
Jenrick MP said: “This government will deliver a better deal for renters. It’s completely unacceptable that a minority of unscrupulous landlords continue to break the law and provide homes which fall short of the standards we rightly expect - making lives difficult for hard-working tenants who just want to get on with their lives.
“Everyone deserves to live in a home that is safe and secure and the funding announced today will strengthen councils’ powers to crack down on poor landlords and drive up standards in the private rented sector for renters across the country.”