Shelter is asking Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, to keep the Government’s promises in their Housing Strategy in November 2011: to ‘deal with rogue landlords’ and ‘tackle dangerous and poorly maintained homes’.
Despite the Government’s assurances, Shelter says that rogue landlords are still cashing in on the high demand for rented homes, and trapping families in squalid and sometimes dangerous conditions.
Shelter wants the Housing Minister to take five steps to tackle landlords who break the law:
- Tougher sentencing for criminal landlords: increasing the maximum penalty for ignoring a court order to improve conditions from £5,000 to £20,000.
- A rogue landlord prosecution fund: earmarking money to help councils get tough on landlords blighting their area
- New protection for brave tenants: safeguard tenants from being evicted in retaliation for whistleblowing.
- An online landlord conviction database: a new website listing all convicted landlords to help tenants avoid criminal landlords.
- A rogue landlord summit convened by the Housing Minister to create a clear action plan to protect tenants.
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s Chief Executive said: ‘Renting is no longer simply a stop gap for young people before they get on the housing ladder. More and more families are bringing up children in privately rented homes, and many have to take a chance on the first place they can afford.
‘This high demand is a golden opportunity for rogue landlords who are exploiting the desperation of people looking for a home, and leaving them trapped in houses that fail to meet basic living standards and, in some cases, put lives at risk.
‘For families in particular, the shortage of rented homes, together with the upheaval to family life, means that many are too scared to challenge bad landlords for fear of eviction. This means that increasingly, it’s children who are suffering at the hands of this rogue minority.
‘That’s why it’s never been more important that we root out the small but dangerous minority of rogue landlords who are making people’s lives a misery and bringing good landlords into disrepute. National government must now finally take action, as promised in the Housing Strategy.
‘We also need to see strong action from local authorities, who must use every weapon in their armoury to enforce the law and get tough in stamping out criminal behaviour.
‘We must make renting fit for purpose for the growing numbers of families who are searching for a safe and stable home in which their children can thrive.’