Government gives £15,000 to Barking, Havering and Redbridge to crack down on criminal landlords
PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:49 08 January 2020
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Barking, Havering and Redbridge are sharing £15,000 from the government to tackle criminal landlords.
It is set to be used for a "joint project" to train officers who investigate suspected coercion or forced labour in homes of multiple occupation (HMOs). Officers will be looking at cases with links to businesses like car washes, massage parlours and nail bars.
The £15,000 is part of a pot of £4million for more than 100 councils announced by the government on Friday, January 3. The goal is to help councils take enforcement action against landlords offering "inadequate or unsafe housing".
But the funding has been criticised.
Barking and Dagenham Council's lead for enforcement Margaret Mullane tweeted "This sum is nowhere near enough," referring to the £4million for councils across the UK.
A spokesman for the authority said: "Like councils up and down the country, we are doing what we can to raise standards in the private rented sector and are taking action where required. It is important to note that most landlords are responsible and provide decent housing for their tenants.
"We want to work more closely with the government to raise standards in the private rented sector - and could do more if we were given the right tools."
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A Redbridge Council spokesman said it welcomed the announcement but that the £15,000 "will only go a small way" to support its work regulating private landlords, adding: "It is important to stress that most landlords provide decent housing and we are committed to ensuring that standards throughout the whole sector are maintained."
Havering's lead for public protection and safety Cllr Viddy Persaud welcomed the funding, but said she'd like to see more to tackle landlords who take advantage of tenants.
She added the Havering Council's landlord scheme saw £500,000 in penalty notices in 2019 and that it works with property owners to make sure their buildings are up to scratch.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said in a statement launching the fund: "It's completely unacceptable that a minority of unscrupulous landlords continue to break the law and provide homes which fall short of the standards we rightly expect - making lives difficult for hard-working tenants who just want to get on with their lives.
"Everyone deserves to live in a home that is safe and secure and the funding announced today for Greater London will strengthen councils' powers to crack down on poor landlords and drive up standards in the private rented sector for renters across the country."
Labour's shadow housing secretary John Healey called the funding a "puny commitment".
More than £900,000 has been given to councils in London.
According to a government statement, action includes Camden engaging with renters to make sure their voices are heard and Greenwich trailing new technology to identify areas where there are particularly cold homes.
Havering council has been contacted for comment.