A new court ruling allowing Brent Council to use the Proceeds of Crime Act to claw back earnings from a family of rogue landlords has set an important legal precedent for future court cases. The court ruling will help councils tackle the problem of poor housing and rogue landlords.
Poor Quality Housing
Until now, councils had no access to any earnings from landlords who were caught renting out poor quality housing. All they could do was fine individuals found guilty, but in most cases, fines were little more than a couple of months’ income, so hardly a deterrent. Local councils are under-resourced, and in areas with a large rental housing stock, it is easy for exploitative landlords to slip under the radar. Half of all local authorities have issued only one enforcement order in the last 12 months, yet there are an estimated 12k people living in illegal HMOs.
Living in Squalor
Many rogue landlords earn thousands per month, despite their tenants living in inhabitable conditions. In the above court case, the family in question had previously been prosecuted for letting out a house in Wembley. The house was described as “appalling”, with 40 people living in a house licensed for only seven people. There were only two bathrooms and one kitchen and some of the residents were forced to live in a shed in the garden. Now that the judge has ruled the council can go after the landlords, other councils are expected to do the same.