Poor Data Stops Councils Tackling Rogue Landlords

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A failure to identify private rented homes allows bad landlords to house tenants in poor conditions, according to a new government-backed report.

Most councils in England do not know how many homes are rented out in their areas because no database of private landlords and the properties they own is available, which hampers effective enforcement against rogue landlords.

Although government agencies and councils hold some information about landlords, they do not share the data, says a review of selective licensing in England ordered from consultancy Opinion Research Services by the housing minister.

The study also points out that the lack of data is a major problem holding back effective enforcement to raise housing standards.

“A national registration scheme would go a long way toward solving these data related problems,” says the review.

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“Such as scheme would allow for far more accurate enumeration of the private rented sector at the planning stage and would facilitate the ongoing identification of unlicensed properties in an active designation. These factors would increase the effectiveness of any selective licensing scheme significantly.

“As such, national registration would at the very least complement and support selective licensing. There is a significant appetite for such an initiative.”

Letting agent fined for council tax fraud

Letting agency director Satinderjit Thiara must pay a £1,000 fine with £2,283 costs for falsifying tenancy agreements in a bid to avoid paying council tax on empty buy to let homes.

He created three tenancy agreements for vacant homes in Telford as owner of First 4 Let (Telford) Ltd, Telford Magistrates were told.

The frauds made the former tenants whose names he put on the agreements liable to pay the council tax, but his scheme came to light when Telford Council tried to claim the money.

Thiara admitted the three fraud charges.

Buy to let rents rise again

UK buy to let rents increased by 1.3% in the year to May, says the Office for National Statistics in the latest buy to let data.

Rents in England grew 1.3%, but they varied across the regions, from the highest increase of 2.1% in the East Midlands to the lowest gain – a 0.5% increase in the North East.

Subtracting London’s 0.9% increase out of the data saw rents grow 1.5% for the rest of the UK.

In Wales, rents gained 1.1% year on year, but only 0.8% in Scotland.

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