A new interactive learning toolkit has been introduced by the government to help local authorities tackle rogue landlords and letting agents within the private rented sector (PRS).
The new toolkit – which was published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) – comes after recent research by the London Trading Standards found that there were a number of rogue letting agents and landlords operating in London. The research found that a staggering 46% of operators that were studied had broken the law in the 15 months to June 2019. This led to £1.2m in fines being issued and 14 criminal prosecutions handed out for a range of offences.
In the wake of these findings, it has become apparent to the government that it’s likely this issue is not just exclusive to the capital and that they needed work with local authorities across the country to help them identify rogue trading within the PRS, which has led to the introduction of the new toolkit.
The interactive toolkit includes a knowledge centre that provides information on enforcement guidance and legislation for enforcement officers and a scenario section that helps practitioners to apply their knowledge on different kinds of cases, including overcrowding. There is also exercises to help officers implement their enforcement strategy in a practical way.
The toolkit is aimed to complement the government’s refreshed enforcement guidance launched back in April. It also comes after a series of new measures taken by the government to shake up the private rented sector in the UK, including Home (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, which is in place to improve the standards of rental accommodation and a proposed ban on Section 21, which allows landlords to evict their tenants without providing a reason.
In a statement, MHCLG said: “The toolkit facilitates the development and application of enforcement expertise to a range of scenarios,”
“It offers guidance to local authorities about taking a sustainable approach to enforcement and will help them develop an action plan going forward.”
Resources like this are incredibly important for the PRS; Not just to protect tenants from rogue operators, but it also helps to improve the reputation of the sector as a whole. The PRS accounts for so many households throughout the UK, so it’s essential that any unlawful practise is stamped out and tenants can confidently live in rental accommodation knowing that their landlord or letting agent has their best interest at heart.
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