EHOs say cuts are hitting enforcement
The government has told housing EHOs who complained they did not have enough resources to crackdown on rogue landlords that every part of the public sector needs to do its bit to pay off the deficit.
The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) insisted to EHN that the government had provided councils with ‘a fair settlement’.
‘Every corner of the public sector has to help pay off the deficit including local government, which accounts for a quarter of all public spending,’ said a spokesperson.
‘The government has provided local government with a fair settlement which means councils still have on average £2,186 for every household they serve, enough to safeguard the most vulnerable, protect taxpayers' interests and the frontline services they rely on.’
An exclusive EHN survey last week revealed that 40 per cent of housing EHOs believe local authority cuts are impacting on their ability to prosecute irresponsible landlords and 80 per cent say they have lost frontline staff since 2010.
Some said they lacked the resources to prosecute rogue landlords. Others said they did not have the staff to investigate all the complaints they received.
DCLG said councils have strong powers available to them tackle poor housing conditions, including inspecting suspicious residential properties and requiring landlords to make improvements.
‘We will continue to work with councils across the country to understand any barriers they may face in tackling rogue landlords and consider what steps may need to be taken to address any problems,’ said the spokesperson.
David Kidney, CIEH head of policy, said councils did not have enough resources to catch criminal landlords.
‘It is short-sighted of ministers to say that local authorities have the powers they need to tackle criminality among landlords if the resources are not there to allow councils to exercise those powers,’ he said.
Mr Kidney said there needed to be an agreed plan for marshalling the resources necessary to tackle bad housing conditions and rogue landlords.
‘The EHN survey shows that we need adequate numbers of housing staff, council-wide support (for example, legal services), some budget flexibility to aid landlords who are willing to do the right thing and a court service that will process housing cases promptly,’ he said.