Plans to tackle rogue landlords in west Suffolk move step closer

The plans aim to tackle landlords letting unsafe properties. Picture: OWEN HINES

The plans aim to tackle landlords letting unsafe properties. Picture: OWEN HINES - Credit: Archant

West Suffolk councils have moved a step closer to tackling rogue landlords in the county after St Edmundsbury cabinet approved plans to progress – with a final decision due next month.

New legislation introduced in 2016 aims to regulate properties let by landlords in an unsafe state and cash for rent deals.

A report prepared for St Edmundsbury’s cabinet on Tuesday said that west Suffolk’s landlords were mostly providing good, well maintained homes, but added: “There are, however, a small number of rogue and irresponsible landlords who knowingly rent out accommodation that is unlicensed, substandard and/or unsafe and for whom the current sanctions are not a sufficient deterrent.”

In January, the council’s cabinet agreed to put its new enforcement action plan out to consultation, with many landlords sharing their thoughts during the proposals.

The plans will now go to both the St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath full council meetings next month for adoption.

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Sara Mildmay White, lead member for housing for Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury councils said: “Our local landlords used the consultation to show strong support for the civil measures introduced in this policy, aimed at protecting tenants from unhealthy and unsafe living conditions and at dissuading rogue landlords from operating in west Suffolk.”

The new plan will allow councils to pursue civil penalty fines, rent repayment orders and banning orders for those not complying.

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A spokeswoman said: “Wherever possible, west Suffolk councils take a staged approach to enforcement to ensure solutions are initially sought through advice, co-operation and agreement.

“The new legislation provides a streamlined alternative to prosecution, albeit with same level of evidence and an appeals process in place, which is designed to deal with cash for rent landlords working outside the law.”

The report added: “The focus of policy development is on tackling and dealing with the very worst landlords, and deterring any bad landlords from starting to operate in the area, whilst working with those that wish to grow the sector in terms of much needed better quality housing.”

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