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10 May 2012
Public sector cuts are hampering the ability of some councils to crack down on rogue landlords according to an investigation carried out by Environmental Health News, the magazine of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).
The findings of the investigation will be discussed at a major Housing Conference on 17 May.
One respondent says 'we generally have no budget to prosecute', another notes that their authority has been unable to take 'any notices through to prosecution stage' since 2009 because their legal department is so small.
Other comments focus on the impact of severe staff shortages. One council has 'practically disbanded its private sector housing team and another has a single EHP covering two authorities with large geographical areas following 'a restructure.'
One EHP remarks there has been increase in the number of landlords refusing to undertake improvement or remedial work in the last two years.
Commenting, David Kidney, CIEH Head of Policy, said:
“This survey confirms our worst fears – that many councils are finding it increasingly difficult to conduct investigations due to cutbacks in government housing expenditure. This is impairing the ability of EHOs to tackle abuses in the private rented sector.”
He added that it made no sense to cut back investment in housing.
“As we have said it makes no 'economic' sense to cut back investment in housing. The equation is a simple one: poor housing leads to poor health which leads to longer NHS queues which ends up putting a further squeeze the nation's resources,'he said.
“The government's obsession with cutting spending is putting some of the most vulnerable people at risk. We must have an informed, evidence based discussion about housing in this country.”