Saturday, 9 May 2009

Action on rogue landlords wins support

Tougher action against rogue private landlords has been welcomed by Plaid Cymru's Parliamentary candidate for Wrecsam Arfon Jones.

The Gwersyllt councillor has backed plans to be outlined in a Green Paper on the licensing of private housing sector landlords. The purpose of the Green Paper is to outline plans to license landlords of privately rented housing to ensure that housing standards are improved and to prevent rogue landlords from exploiting tenants.

The new system will be monitored by an independent body who will decide on complaints. If complaints are upheld the landlord could lose their letting licence. Matters covered under standards could be disrepair to houses, no fire regulations and no servicing of gas appliances. The Government estimates that half of homes in the privately rented sector do not meet the UK Government’s ‘decent homes’ standards.

Cllr Jones said: "In Wales the numbers are likely to much higher as the housing standard in Wales is the Wales Quality Housing Standard (WQHS), which is a much stricter standard than the ‘decent homes’ standards."

He added: “I welcome the decision to issue this Green paper on licensing private sector landlords; I have dealt with many cases of people who live in poor housing that are in states of disrepair. Some are frankly dangerous with gas appliances not having been serviced and many are overcrowded.”
Although tenants can make complaints to the council’s Housing Standards Department many don’t because of fear of being intimidated and evicted. Wrecsam Council have recently approved a strategy for dealing with enforcement of housing standards in the private sector.

Cllr Jones added: “I have in the past provided the Housing Standards with information on privately rented housing issues and I have been pleased with the speed and urgency to which they respond to breaches of the law.”
Cllr Jones would also like the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme, which is supposed to protect tenants deposits, to be strengthened.

Cllr Jones said: “The tenancy deposit protection scheme does not appear to work well because there is no enforcement for breaches of it. I believe that local councils should be able to take landlords who fail to comply with the scheme to court. At present the tenants themselves must do it. I will be writing to Plaid's housing minister in Cardiff Jocelyn Davies and Margaret Beckett, her London counterpart, to ask for the new law to include powers in relation to the deposit protection.”

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