Harlow Council commit to clampdown on rogue landlords

News / Tue 17th Oct 2023 at 08:50am

HARLOW Council is set to enforce stricter penalties on rogue private landlords who knowingly rent out unsafe and substandard homes in Harlow including properties which are left with damp and mould issues.

Last Thursday (12 October) Cabinet agreed to carry out 4-week public consultation on a new Private Rented Sector Housing Enforcement Policy. Following the consultation, the policy will go back to Cabinet later next month for adoption. 

Brian Thomas Photography

The consultation is live on the council’s website https://www.harlow.gov.uk/your-council/have-your-say/consultations and runs until 10 November 2023. The council would particularly like to hear from tenants, landlords and associated landlord tenant organisations.

The updated policy, which is part of the priority to improve council services, outlines the approach the council will take to tackle poor private housing conditions and address non-compliance with current legislation. The new policy will replace the current one which was adopted 20 years ago. 

The policy incorporates additional civic penalty powers and sets out the maximum levels of fines the council could impose for non-compliance. This includes fines of up to £30,000 for failure to comply with legislation such as electrical safety standards or ongoing breaches which affect the health and safety of tenants.

Since adopting the previous policy there have been several significant changes to housing legislation. The policy aims to:

  • Improve the standard of homes in the private sector
  • Assess local housing conditions including damp and mould
  • Reduce the number of properties with serious risks to health and safety
  • Reduce the number of vulnerable households living in non-decent homes
  • Improve the energy efficiency and warmth of homes and to help reduce fuel poverty
  • Improve standards in private rented accommodation
  • Improve the standards in HMOs (houses in multiple occupation)

Councillor Nicola Purse, cabinet portfolio holder for environment and sustainability, said:

“We are working hard to fix council housing by improving the standards of our own homes, but we also want to do more to improve the conditions of the homes we are not responsible for. Nearly a quarter of homes in Harlow are from the private rented sector. We want to support the good landlords who play by the rules and provide decent, well-maintained homes. However, we will act with full force against those rogue landlords, letting agents and property managers who knowingly rent out unsafe and substandard accommodation. 

“This proposed policy will allow us to take a harder line and impose stricter penalties, so our residents who privately rent don’t have to accept living in poor quality homes.”

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