Sheffield Council has pledged to continue its work improving the private rental sector after achieving its highest ever number of successful prosecutions against rogue landlords.
During November, the council sentenced seven separate individuals and companies for various housing offences by the city’s courts. The council deals with approximately 2000 complaints in the private housing sector each year, with roughly 10 per cent resulting in a formal investigation or enforcement action.
Offences listed included the failure licence properties, breaching regulations for houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) and unlawful evictions. As a result of the investigations, several landlords were deemed ‘not fit and proper’, and the council has now refused to issue them a licence as a result.
Service manager for private housing Michelle Houston led the charge against rogue landlords at Sheffield Council. She explained that a key part of her plan is to engage with tenants, ensuring that they are aware of their rights. She said: One of the things that we do want to get across is that private rented tenants have the right to live in a safe and well-maintained house. Sometimes they think ‘What can you expect? A private landlord doesn’t have to do repairs’ – but they do. We want to get that message across to tenants so we can then get it across to landlords. Often tenants have quite low expectations.’
However, Michelle emphasized that not every landlord is in the wrong. She continued: ‘The vast majority of landlords – more than 90 per cent – are fine. They might not be gold star, but they are safe and the landlords do what they are supposed to do. We don’t want every private rented property to be gold star because we don’t want everything to be top of the scale. We are very happy to have a basic but safe private rented property. But sometimes we go out and it’s multiple problems.’