Housing Day: Working with landlords to create safe and habitable homes for tenants
As part of this year’s Housing Day today (Wednesday 7 October 2020), with the private rented sector still growing, Terry Alexander, community protection team manager in Shropshire Council’s regulatory services, explains why it’s vital we get all private landlords on board to create safe and habitable homes for tenants:-
With the ever-increasing number of households now relying on the private renting sector to meet their housing needs, the sector now plays a crucial role in the county’s housing market.
As a council we are committed to improving standards in private rented sector housing, bringing empty homes back into use and ensuring private rented accommodation is well managed, properly maintained, and safe and habitable.
We want to support good landlords and agents who provide decent well-maintained homes and to crack down on unscrupulous landlords who are flouting the law and seeking profit from their non-compliance.
We don’t want landlords to see us as ‘bad guys’; however, we know there are a small number of rogue or criminal landlords who knowingly rent out unsafe and substandard accommodation. We have to create a level playing field for all landlords by dealing robustly with criminal, rogue and irresponsible landlords. We’re here to strike the right balance on regulation in order to avoid stifling investment in this sector.
Our regulatory services provide advice and guidance to assist landlords and property agents in complying with their legal requirements.
We advise tenants of their rights and obligations, and how they can try and resolve a situation prior to any involvement being required by the council. We expect private tenants to contact their landlord to report any issues before contacting us. This ensures that landlords are aware of issues and gives them an opportunity to resolve them. We have more information on how to report issues on our website. Where works are needed we would expect tenants to co-operate with the landlord to facilitate the repair.
For social tenants who have concerns, we advise that they liaise with their housing association first, prior to contacting us.
The Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduced the measures to crack down on criminal, rogue and irresponsible landlords with enforcement powers including civil penalties of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution for certain specified offences, and a database of rogue landlords and property agents who have been convicted of certain offences or received multiple civil penalties, with banning orders for the most serious and prolific offenders.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
An HMO is a house or flat that is occupied as a main residence, by more than one household, where occupiers share facilities such as kitchens, bathrooms and WCs. HMOs occupied by five or more people, in two or more households, must obtain a licence. This is a mandatory legal requirement.
Homes and other buildings left empty represent a significant wasted resource, both to their owners and to those in housing need across Shropshire.
There are a number of reasons why properties may become empty, ranging from the owner being in care, to the owner having a lack of skills or finances to manage the property, to legal issues such as probate creating delays.
We aim to work with other council teams and owners of empty homes to assist them in returning their property to use through engagement, but will consider enforcement options available to us where this is unsuccessful.
We’ll also investigate if an empty property is causing you the following problems