The City Council has been awarded £40,492 by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to help tackle the minority of irresponsible landlords who make tenants’ lives a misery.
Oxford City is one of the 50 councils across the country to benefit from a fund of nearly £2.4 million to ramp up action against rogue landlords by creating new digital tools to help councils better protect tenants.
As part of a joint initiative between the Counter-Fraud and Enforcement teams, the Council will use the money primarily to enhance existing data matching technology and for additional staff training in the Counter-Fraud Team. This will enable the identification of suspected unlicensed Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and properties in the private rented sector. The Council’s enforcement teams in Regulatory Services and Community Safety will then be able to use address-specific data to target inspections.
The government has already equipped local authorities with strong powers to tackle criminal landlords, ranging from fines to outright bans for the worst offenders. As part of the funding commitment, the Council will share best practice and examples of its innovative approaches, to help improve enforcement in other areas.
There are 4.7 million households in the private rented sector in England, with recent statistics showing that 82 per cent of private renters are satisfied with their accommodation. In Oxford, an estimated 1 in 5 of the resident population live in an HMO.
Councillor Linda Smith, Deputy Leader and Board Member for Leisure and Housing, said: “I’m delighted that we have been awarded this funding, which will improve our use of data sources to identify unlicensed HMOs and accessing the tenancy deposit database to increase our targeting of rogue landlords. The Council believes that everyone has the right to live in a decent home that is safe, warm and secure. It is well documented that sub-standard homes have a generally negative impact on the health of the people who live in them. There are clear links between damp, cold homes and the incidence of illnesses, such as asthma, respiratory disease, heart attacks and strokes. A home may also contain significant hazards which increase the risk of harm from falls, fire, scalds, electric shock, asbestos etc. We must tackle poor quality housing to deliver wider benefits for the health of residents and the quality of the city environment, and this extra funding will boost our ability to work across teams within the Council to tackle rogue landlords more effectively.”
Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP said: "Everyone has the right to live in a home that is safe and secure, and it is vital we crack down on the small minority of landlords who are not giving their tenants this security. This extra funding will further boost councils’ ability to root out rogue landlords and ensure that poor-quality homes in the area are improved, making the housing market fairer for everyone."