Better Homes For All
Supporting the good landlords while cracking down on the rogues – Telford & Wrekin Council’s successes in improving the quality of accommodation for people who privately rent in the borough are due to be outlined to the next meeting of its Cabinet.
In February last year, the Cabinet approved the ‘Better Homes for All’ package. It includes a re-launched Landlord Accreditation Scheme to educate, support and advise landlords, a Rogue Landlord Taskforce to deal with those who persistently offend and the use of enforcement officers to tackle a range of associated environmental crimes and anti-social behaviour.
A report outlining the achievements in the last year will be presented to the Cabinet when it meets on Thursday 14 March.
Tackling Rogue Landlords:
•In 2018, 226 notices were served in relation to 60 properties.
•Six separate prosecutions progressed for offences under the Housing Act 2004 resulting in landlords and letting agents being ordered to pay more than £43,000 in fines and costs. £11,000 was reclaimed in Housing Benefit.
•Telford & Wrekin Council was the first local authority in the country to add a convicted landlord to a new national database of rogues.
Enforcement of anti-social behaviour and environmental crimes:
Using an information dashboard, our team of enforcement officers now identifies and targets hotspots for antisocial behaviour, including fly-tipping, fly-posting, littering and graffiti. Its approach is to educate first before resorting to any enforcement:
•In 2018, a total of 283 fixed penalty notices were issued; four times that of the previous year.
•Also in 2018, 641 warning letters were sent to people suspected but where there was insufficient evidence to issue a fine. This compares to only 195 warning letters in 2015.
•Last year, the number of reported fly-tips was 40% lower than its peak three years earlier.
•The Council continues to work closely with street champions and volunteers to current hotspots for targeting.
•Offenders on the Community Payback service now work in a number of housing estates to help clear litter and graffiti.
Promoting the good work of private sector landlords:
•In August 2018, Telford & Wrekin Council relaunched its Landlord Accreditation Scheme and a new Landlord Liaison Officer was appointed to improve standards in private rented sector through education support and advice to landlords and letting agents. There are now 93 members of this scheme.
•There is improved support for tenants on choosing their next landlord and how to report any issues about the home they rent.
•In February 2019, the Council held the “Better Homes For All Awards” sponsored by the Wrekin Housing Trust. The aim of the ceremony was to celebrate some of the excellent tenants, landlords and letting agents in the borough and dispel the negative image of the private rented sector often reported in the media.
Cllr Richard Overton, Telford & Wrekin Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Enforcement, said: ‘Our Better Homes For All’ work is part of our drive to create a better borough. Our policy of educating first and taking action against those who persistently and willfully break the law is really paying dividends.
“Our housing teams, by working with the private rented sector, are helping to solve a housing and accommodation problem for Telford and Wrekin. We are adopting a ‘carrot and stick’ approach; supporting the good and applying enforcement powers against the persistently bad.
“Our work on tackling environmental crime and anti social behaviour is helping to change attitudes and behaviours. We have seen, for example, a big drop in the number of reported fly-tips. Some of the streets which were originally in our top ten for littering and fly-tipping are no longer in that list. This is as a result of our work with communities living in those streets.
“I would like to thank our officers for their hard work and achievements. We will continue to closely monitor the effectiveness of this package of measures.”