Ask the experts: How can we get rid of rogue landlords?

Rogue landlords are on the front pages once again

With that, we ask three leading industry voices why they think the issue persists and what should be done about it.

There are an estimated 2.5 million landlords in the UK. Of those, the government estimates there are around 10,500 rogue landlords currently operating – a minuscule 0.42%.

In April 2018, Housing minister Heather Wheeler told a Select Committee that private rented sector (PRS) homes failing the decent homes standard had fallen from 47% to 27% over the past ten years.

Progress? Yes. But Shelter says that whilst percentage wise figures are reducing,

the fact that the PRS had grown so big in that time meant that in real number terms there were actually more of these substandard properties.

With such a significant problem facing the industry, something needs to change.

A Twitter poll we recently conducted found that 43% of landlords believed tougher sentences and the enforcement of existing laws are the answer, but what do the experts think?

We sat down with three leading voices from three different areas of the industry to ask them why they think the issue isn’t going away and what needs to be done to force these rogue operators off the table.

Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, author of 'The Landlord’s Friend' and star of Channel 5’s 'Rogue Landlords, Bad Tenants'

“The landlords I speak to are cheesed off that they are getting a bad name by being tarred with the same brush as these rogue landlords. I get frustrated with the rhetoric, and I’m always speaking up on behalf of landlords and the decent people in the industry, because we’ve got 2.5 million landlords out there and only 10,000 or so bad apples. You simply don’t hear about the excellent work landlords do and about how they prop up the social housing sector.

– Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action

“The truth is that the majority of landlords are small landlords and some of them are very naïve. They don’t like spending money on repairs, which is an issue as well, of course, but the main problem is their failure to understand what’s happening in the industry and the obligations that come with renting a property. Tenants also need to be more informed, but statistically, a tenant will stay in a property a lot longer if it’s managed by a letting agent rather than an individual landlord, because they’re governed by the property.”

“I sat on the first government meeting when they were talking about banning orders and a potential rogue landlords list, and I suggested that there should be a ‘three-strikes-and-you’re-out rule’ for serial offenders. There should be enforced sales, but if you’ve got a rogue landlord that’s making fortunes out of the housing benefit system or vulnerable tenants in poor quality housing, then the council should be applying much stiffer enforcement.”

“What would really motivate these rogue landlords is heavy fines. Councils could then reinvest that money and put more environmental health officers and boots on the ground. Of course, the bigger picture is that even if the councils do collect that money, the budgets are stretched, and their main spend is to do with vulnerable children, social care, and social housing care for the elderly. So then they have to juggle their books. If they ring-fenced the fines and reinvested them into prosecuting more rogue landlords, then I think that would be a good start.”

– Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action