£290k crackdown on Worcestershire rogue landlords
Landlords whose properties are overcrowded, at risk of fire or are being used for criminal activity, could be given on-the-spot fines or face prosecution under a new crackdown across Worcestershire.
The Government has awarded £291,390 to the six district Councils of Worcestershire to implement a county-wide crackdown on rogue landlords. The bid, led by Worcester City Council and in partnership with Herefordshire and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service, will be used to identify flats and other housing where tenants – many of them expected to be migrants – are living in poor or dangerous conditions.
The investment, from the Controlling Migration Fund, will mean that action will be taken to force landlords to make improvements and to reduce any knock-on effects on local communities.
Councillor Mike Johnson, Chair of the City Council’s Communities Committee, said: “This funding will allow action to be taken against rogue landlords across our county. It will allow us to understand and tackle the impact that poor – and, in some cases, dangerous – housing has on the migrant population and local residents of Worcestershire.”
The crackdown will focus on finding unlicensed private rented accommodation where tenants’ lives are being put at risk through poor safety standards and overcrowding. Officers will also be on the lookout for signs of criminal activity or where there are concerns over the personal safety of tenants – for example, prostitution or sexual exploitation of children.
Many of the tenants in such accommodation are expected to be migrants. The project will also focus on the impact their poor housing can have on local communities, in terms of noise, sanitation issues, greater fire risk, benefit fraud and anti-social behaviour such as street drinking. In some cases migrant tenants who wish to return to their country of origin may be assisted to do so.
The campaign will specifically target premises above take-aways, many of which are thought to be used for accommodation.
This follows a recent Fire Service pilot scheme in Worcestershire, when 234 residential flats above business premises were visited. 157 of them were given fire safety checks, which led to the issuing of 51 official notices ordering that safety improvements be made.
Cllr Lynn Denham, Vice Chair of the City Council’s Communitites Committee, said: “This important project will enable us to address issues which we know can be a concern to local residents. Private rented properties are an important part of the housing mix in Worcestershire, but we need to ensure that every home is safe and meets a decent standard.”
Two private sector enforcement officers will be employed as part of the campaign, working to track down and inspect rented accommodation, identify who the landlords are and check that conditions are up to legally required standards.
Where problems are discovered, the officers will be able to issue fines or notices ordering landlords to improve their properties. In some cases, rogue landlords could face prosecution.
A communities engagement worker will also support any tenants in sub-standard properties and the communities they are living in, aiming to building better relations between them.
For more information about funding for Councils please click here