Council to stamp on rogue landlords

COMPLAINTS from Hucknall tenants in the private sector about ‘rogue landlords’ and anti-social behaviour by neighbours have forced Ashfield District Council to take action.

The council has decided to get tough by restructuring its private-sector enforcement team, including the recruitment of a new member.

Hucknall and the rest of the district has a high level of privately-rented properties. But a large number are in very poor condition and figures for complaints about neglectful landlords have almost doubled between 2006 and 2011 — from 339 to 585.

Council bosses hope a new team member will allow them to deal with all emergency cases more quickly as demand for their service increases. They have set a response time of three days.

Tenants whose landlords fail to help them often approach the team for an inspection, which paves the way for official intervention from the council.

Coun Steven Carroll (Lab), portfolio holder for culture and housing, said he wanted to send a strong message that the council wants good housing in the private and public sectors.

He added: “We want to work with landlords and solve issues that arise. But at the same time, we will deal with landlords.

“We are constantly getting problems with anti-social behaviour from residents in the private sector and complaints about the poor state of accommodation. We already have a service in place to deal with these problems. But if someone makes a complaint, it can take up to two weeks to deal with.”

The enforcement team deals with all issues relating to the condition and occupation of privately rented accommodation, as well as caravan-site licensing, illegal encampments, empty properties, overcrowding, illegal evictions and filthy and verminous properties.

It is currently made up of a senior environmental health officer, one part-time environmental health officer, a technical officer and a full-time administrative officer. The new recruit will be a specialist environmental health officer.

Over the past few years, team members have started working in close partnership with the police and the fire service to deal more effectively with housing problems.

Coun Carroll added: “We are giving a lot of backing to community support officers now because it is time for a joined-up approach to deal with the issues people are facing.”