Innovation and changeDigital TransformationDigital enforcement package to protect tenants unveiled

Digital enforcement package to protect tenants unveiled

The UK's local authorities and tenents are set to get a digital enforcement package introducing reforms to the private rented sector

The UK Housing Minister has introduced a digital enforcement package to protect tenants from rogue landlords, including new online support, that is part of the government’s drive to reform the private rented sector.

This development signals the latest step in the government cracking down on the small minority of criminal landlords. A nationwide programme of workshops was rolled out by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to help enforcement officers learn from one another.

Earlier this year, Housing Minister Heather Wheeler had announced that more than 50 councils across the country will share nearly £2.4 million of extra funding to crack down on rogue landlords.

Making renting fairer and more accessible

The new support includes an easy to navigate digital enforcement package with online learning modules. Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP said: “This package of support for those working on the frontline of the private rented sector will ensure they are fully equipped to make use of any new powers which can improve the lives of tenants trapped in poor quality accommodation.

“This, along with our further guidance for tenants and landlords on their rights and responsibilities, builds on the ongoing work which sets out to make renting fairer and more accessible for all whilst also ensuring that everyone has a home which is safe and secure.”

Landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities in the private rented sector sets out the roles and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. Rogue landlord enforcement: guidance for local authorities provides local authority enforcement officers with a central reference for guidance on tackling rogue landlords. Local authority enforcement officers play a crucial role in ensuring people in rented accommodation have somewhere safe and secure to live.

Separate guides for current private residential landlords and anyone interested in letting a property and people who are looking for a house or flat to rent were also introduced.

These documents ensure those responsible for protecting tenants can use the powers available to them to maximum effect.

Maintaining standards in the PRS

The private rented sector (PRS) has doubled in size since 2002. Recent figures show that the share of all households renting privately has hovered around 19% to 20% since 2013-14. In 2017-18, the PRS accounted for 4.5 million, or 19%, of UK households. By way of comparison, the proportion of households in the social rented sector has not changed for over a decade.

It is important that both landlords and tenants understand and fulfil their respective rights and responsibilities. This will help to maintain standards in the private rented sector. The digital enforcement package will be useful for both, the landlords and tenants.

Most landlords provide decent homes for their tenants. But, a minority continue to break the law and rent out inadequate or unsafe housing. To help address such issues, this digital enforcement package aims to set out the consequences of breaching these requirements. The rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants will be clearly acknowledged.

Clamping down on rogue landlords

The PRS sector grew a little between 1996-97 and 2006-07. Growth accelerated after 2006-07, with over two million additional households added to the sector. The quality of privately rented housing has improved rapidly over the past 20 years. However, a number of rogue or criminal landlords knowingly rent out unsafe and substandard accommodation. Local authorities play a very important role in ensuring that tenants have access to safe and good quality housing. This digital enforcement package will be handy for them.

Heather added: “The vast majority of landlords are responsible and law-abiding, and many care deeply about providing the highest standards in the properties that they rent. But, sadly, there remains a small minority of criminal landlords who choose not to comply with the law, and whose tenants suffer unacceptable conditions as a result.

“The government is committed to clamping down on these rogue landlords and forcing them to improve the condition of their properties or leave the sector completely. This is why we have taken some important steps to strengthen the tools local authorities have to keep driving these improvements. We have introduced civil penalties, rent repayment orders, the rogue landlords database, and a mandatory licensing scheme that captures more houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) than ever before.”

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