Published: 06:00, 03 January 2020
| Updated: 11:10, 03 January 2020
A £340,000 war chest to help fight criminal landlords will be split between councils in Kent.
The money will allow authorities to impose fines on unscrupulous property owners who fail to provide adequate accommodation.
Cash will also be used to teach tenants about their rights.
Gravesham will receive £16,470, East Kent Consortium - which looks after housing in Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone and Hythe and Thanet - will get £185,583, and the West Kent Private Sector, which oversees housing in Sevenoaks and Swanley, will be given £102,012.
In addition Thanet council will get £34,742 to make sure homes meet energy efficiency targets and that landlords keep up with their obligations.
By law landlords have to provide safe housing and meet government regulations.
In the past, several Kent landlords have been fined for things such as not providing sufficient heating and a lack of fire safety measures.
Property tycoon Judith Wilson, wife of Fergus Wilson, was fined £10,000 last year for failing to ensure hot water was available for her wheelchair-bound tenant.
In another case, Fernando Xavier Da Moura Monteiro was also ordered to pay £10,000 for breaching 22 offences.
These included broken fire alarms, breaches of fire safety measures and allowing waste, including toilet and bath water, to discharge into the back garden of one home.
Only a few months ago, Josh Ahmed rented out an abandoned house to tenants without letting Ashford Borough Council know.
When the council became aware that this supposedly empty house was filled with people, he was fined £5,000.
"Everyone deserves to live in a home that is safe and secure" - Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick
Councils already have strong powers to force landlords to make necessary improvements to a property through use of a range of measures, including civil penalties and banning orders for the worst offenders.
But it is hoped improving councils' practices and forging better relationships between tenants and their landlords will help to tackle crime.
Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: “It’s completely unacceptable that a minority of unscrupulous landlords continue to break the law and provide homes which fall short of the standards we rightly expect – making lives difficult for hard-working tenants who just want to get on with their lives.
“Everyone deserves to live in a home that is safe and secure and the funding announced today for the South East will strengthen councils’ powers to crack down on poor landlords and drive up standards in the private rented sector for renters across the country.”
More by this authorSophie Bird