Published: 11:34, 03 January 2020
| Updated: 12:19, 03 January 2020
A £340,000 fund to tackle criminal landlords is not enough to address the scale of the issue, says the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).
It has hit out after the government today announced some councils would be given extra funding, including several in Kent.
The £340,000 for Kent councils it set to be split between Gravesham, Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone and Hythe, Thanet, Sevenoaks, and Swanley.
While the RLA welcomed the cash boost, they urged ministers to provide more long-term funding so councils can plan ahead in their action against unscrupulous landlords.
They say this is vital to boost the number and skills of environmental health officers, who enforce health and hygiene legislation.
David Smith, policy director for the RLA, said: "We welcome the government’s focus on rooting out criminal landlords.
"For too long the debate has been driven by ideological calls for more regulation of the sector.
"Today's funding though is nowhere near enough... what is needed is better enforcement of the powers already available to tackle the minority who bring the sector into disrepute" - David Smith
"What is needed is better enforcement of the powers already available to tackle the minority who bring the sector into disrepute."
The RLA have previously stated more legislation alone does not stop criminal activity as councils do not have the resources to enforce those laws.
Mr Smith added: "Today’s funding though is nowhere near enough.
"Instead of offering inadequate and sporadic pots of money, it is critical that the government provides proper, multi-year funding to enable councils to plan and prepare workable strategies to find the criminal landlords.
"This should be supported by councils having the political will to prioritise enforcement against the crooks rather than tying good landlords up in licensing schemes which do nothing to protect tenants."
A spokesperson for Kent Renter's Union echoed RLA's comments. They said: “While any increase in funding for enforcement is welcome, this will do little to address the problems faced by Kent’s private renters. We need properly-funded enforcement in the long term, not short term sticking plasters.
"And what we really need are fundamental changes to address the crisis in housing quality, including a national register of landlords and proper access to legal advice and support for renters.”
More by this authorSophie Bird