SPECIAL REPORT: £109k fund to tackle rogue landlords in Boston


Council bosses have been awarded £109,000 to help tackle rogue landlords in Boston.

The borough council - along with the Gangmaster Licensing Authority – was given the cash out of a £4 million funding pot and it will help fund investigations into unscrupulous landlords and enforcement action, especially those with tenants living in squalid and dangerous properties.

Coun Mike Gilbert, council housing and community development portfolio holder, said: “We intend to use this money to target landlords who blatantly ignore the law that covers housing standards and housing management to the detriment of their tenants, the wider community and every tax payer.

“Rented accommodation is like any other product offered to the market. We want to work constructively with good landlords to drive up standards across the private rented sector.”

Coun Gilbert attended Thursday’s landlord meeting at the New England Hotel and said: “An interesting range of opinions were shared and councillors went away with the views of about 100 landlords to consider as part of the consultation and development of the policy.”

GLA chief executive Paul Broadbent added: “The GLA welcomes any opportunity to work with our partners in identifying and tackling those who exploit workers – whether that is through low wages or poor living conditions.

“We look forward to working alongside Boston Borough Council in the coming months to address the issue of poor accommodation to protect vulnerable people.”

Twenty three councils will share the Government funding. Housing Minister Kris Hopkins said the funding is part of a package of measures to ensure tenants get a better deal when they rent a home. He also revealed that new legislation, which came into force in December, will enable courts to take account of landlords’ assets, as well as their income, when levying fines for housing offences, redress schemes for lettings and property management will now be able to come forward for approval, after the application criteria was published.

All agents will be required to join one of the approved schemes, so their tenants have somewhere to turn if they don’t get the service they deserve. The remaining 3,000 lettings and property management agents, around 40 per cent of the entire industry, who do not belong to a scheme will now be required to join one by October 2014.

Mr Hopkins said: “The majority of tenants are happy with their homes, but the private rental market is still afflicted by too many unscrupulous Scrooges; miserly landlords who rent dangerous, dirty and overcrowded properties without a thought for the welfare of their tenants.

“That’s why we’re providing 23 councils with extra funding, so they can root out the cowboys and rogue operators in their area, and consign these scenes of Dickensian destitution to where they belong - the history books.

“We also want to raise the quality and choice of rental accommodation across the whole sector. These measures will continue our progress, ensuring tenants know what level of service they can expect and, if things do go wrong, giving them the confidence to get help and take action.”

Boston Borough Council says it wants to tackle poor quality, overcrowded and dangerous accommodation rented by rogue landlords, which it says can result in wider problems for local communities, such as noise problems, sanitation issues, greater fire risk, council tax and benefit fraud and anti-social behaviour.

Boston Borough Council is considering tackling these issues with the introduction of a licensing scheme covering all privately-rented homes in the borough. It would mean all landlords and letting agents would have to get a licence for a property before they could let a property out.

Since the beginning of November the council has been asking for the views of as many people as possible and would like to hear from more residents, tenants and landlords before the consultation closes on January 31, 2014.

The council believes that licensing all privately-rented properties will help to:

● Counter significant anti-social behaviour in Boston;

● Improve property conditions and standards;

● Deal with landlords who fail to manage their properties effectively.

Visit the council’s website at www.boston.gov.uk/licensingproposal to read the consultation document and complete a questionnaire.