Two west Suffolk councils are taking the first steps to adopting new powers to tackle rogue landlords.
It follows a decision at a joint cabinet meeting of St Edmundsbury Borough and Forest Heath District Council last night at which councillors agreed to begin consultation on new enforcement routes available through the Housing and Planning Act 2016.
The focus of the new policy is on tackling and dealing with the very worst private landlords, and deterring any landlords from starting to operate in west Suffolk, while working with those that wish to grow the sector through much needed, better quality housing.
The new powers enable Local Housing Authorities with the option of civil penalty fines, rent repayment orders and banning orders for non-compliance with certain Housing Act 2004 offences, as an alternative to prosecution.
“The councils work closely with partner services and organisations to support the needs of the vulnerable people in their homes, and to protect the wider community,” said Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, lead member for housing for both authorities.
“West Suffolk landlords are in the main excellent, providing decent, well maintained homes and we are keen to work with and support them.
“There are however a small minority of irresponsible rogue landlords who knowingly rent out accommodation that is unlicensed, substandard and/or unsafe and for whom the current sanctions are not a sufficient deterrent.”
The new legislation is designed to deal with cash for rent landlords working outside of the law.
“Tenants have an important role to play in terms of knowing their rights and working with their landlords,” added Cllr Mildmay–White.