London Mayor Trains Housing Officers to Tackle Rogue Landlords

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is funding a new scheme to train housing enforcement officers to bolster London’s fight against rogue landlords.

Khan is funding a new qualification to help clamp down on rogue landlords in the private rented sector (PRS), and there are plans to roll the scheme out UK-wide.

The foundation-degree level qualification, Advanced Professional Certificate in Private Sector Housing, will train officers with little or no relevant experience up to the standard needed for the role of PRS enforcement officer in 12 months.

The qualification will be delivered by Middlesex University. It forms part of the Mayor’s ‘Better Renting programme’, which aims to build skills and create larger London PRS enforcement teams.

What will officers learn?

Cohorts of the Level 5 course will be both classroom based and experience working in council enforcement teams as environmental health officers.

Developing ‘tenancy sustainment skills’ will also enable them to mediate and resolve issues between landlords and tenants and to be able to support difficult situations, such as tenants facing eviction or potential homelessness.

The course has been set up jointly with The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) to address the lack of qualified and experienced staff following years of cuts in local authority spending.

Dr Phil James, CIEH chief executive, said: 

We are delighted to work together with the Mayor of London to develop this important qualification. It should give London councils the route to train up members of their teams with the skills needed in order to support tenants, do more inspections of rented properties and to take more enforcement actions against unscrupulous landlords, who rent out dangerous and unhealthy homes in the city.

However, landlords regularly voice their frustration when this translates into councils struggling to police licensing schemes.

Where in the UK will the scheme be available?

Khan is funding the programme, which is currently only open to London councils, but could be rolled out nationally if it proves successful.

Khan said:

This new qualification will give councils across London the workforce and expertise to mediate disputes, enforce standards and crackdown on the rogues who give the many honest operators in the sector a bad name.

Khan has also called on ministers to double the amount of money tenants are able to claim through rent repayment orders from the landlords whose properties pose a risk of serious injury or death.

Such orders require a landlord or agent who has committed an offence to repay rent, housing benefit or universal credit. 

London tenants pay an average rent of £1,425 a month, so this change could mean a pay-out of up to £34,000. 

Mr Khan said:

Nearly a fifth of London’s private rented accommodation doesn’t meet basic standards and it is clear that more needs to be done to support tenants. I want to see tougher penalties for rogue operators and this action can only come from the government. Poor housing conditions and exploitative rents have an awful impact on both the physical and mental health of tenants and these actions need to have consequences.

How will this affect good landlords?

We know that most landlords have invested in property for their futures and are doing their best by their tenants. A good landlord ensures that:

If you keep on top of all of this, you are not one of the rogue landlords that the Mayor of London is looking to crack down on. Keep track of your documentation and keep the lines of communication open and professional with your tenant and you shouldn’t have anything to fear.  

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