FOCUS: Private rental sector enforcement needs ‘major reform’ says expert panel

Enforcement of the private rental market in England is a patchwork of different approaches and needs a significant shake-up, a panel of experts has warned.

Their report, Improving Compliance with Private Rented Sector Legislation, finds that while many councils focus on trying to control bad behaviour by landlords through the courts, a more carrot-and-stick approach to compliance would be better.

Produced by the TDS Charitable Foundation and SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust, the report reveals how many councils face increased demand for their services but diminishing resources, but that simply chasing rogue landlords down with prosecutions and huge fines should not be the only solution.

As we reported earlier this year, both prosecutions of landlords and fines have been escalating recently and, for example, research for LandlordZONE showed that fines totalling £4.5 million had been levied since the Mayor’s rogue database went live.

The TDS report also recommends that a national landlord database is established in England like the ones already in operation within Wales and Scotland, and that councils should get adequate funding.

It also highlights the need for new sentencing guidelines for the criminal courts and tribunals so that punishment is proportionate to the nature of the offence.

John Duff, chair of the SafeDeposits Scotland Charitable Trust, says: “This is a comprehensive piece of research which we hope will stimulate debate across the industry, and ultimately create solutions to the issues identified as we work to continually improve the sector.”

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