South Yorkshire MP John Healey has welcomed government funding to help to tackle rogue landlords.
Barnsley Council has received £230,000 for a project based between Goldthorpe, Wombwell and Barnsley town centre, which aims to improve private rented housing and crack down on bad landlords.
Mr Healey said: “Many people in Goldthorpe are concerned at problems caused by bad private rented housing, so they will welcome the crackdown the council are planning.
“Reports about bad landlords are increasing, and this is dragging down the names of those who treat their tenants fairly.”
However, Mr Healey – who used to be the minister of state for housing and planning – revealed the coalition government has actually reduced the amount of regulation in this area. He said it is now easier for property owners to convert houses into multiple flats and fill them with tenants, without any consideration for the neighbourhood and local services.
Barnsley Council has identified certain hot spots where it thinks such landlords may be in operation. Blitz operations are planned, which will involve the council, police, firefighters, the probation service, and benefit and energy checks.
These crackdowns will include inspections, an accreditation of landlords scheme, the enforcement of repairs when work hasn’t been done voluntarily and encouraging owners to bring unoccupied homes back into use.
It is hoped this additional funding will help to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour levels, and improve the condition of private rented houses, people’s health and the environment.
Barnsley Council is just one of 23 councils to receive part of a £4 million fund, as announced by housing minister Kris Hopkins.
He said the money was to root out the cowboys and rogue operators in each of these areas, and consign these “scenes of Dickensian destitution to where they belong – the history books”.
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.