The latest so-called rogue landlord prosecution figures released by the Ministry of Justice expose how bad some landlords really are at first sight.
The data reveals that between January2006 and December 2014, councils prosecuted 2,006 landlords and property companies.
The figures also names and shames the most prosecuted landlords, lays out the amount of fines paid and a council league table of prosecutions – headed by borough councils in East and North London.
However, considering the data, what the figures really show is either after nine years of enforcing housing legislation, councils in England and Wales have not yet got their act together to bring bad landlords to justice or the number of bad landlords is really low.
According to figures released earlier this year by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), England and Wales has around 1.6 million landlords.
As a rough calculation 2,006 as a percentage of all landlords is number that hardly registers on the scale – lower than 0.1%.
Yet dozens of local authorities are taking on additional or selective licensing powers on the grounds that letting properties in their neighbourhoods are below par and represent a risk to tenants.
The most prosecuted landlord was Katia Goremsandu, who owns properties in Haringey, North London. She has seven convictions and has paid fines of £16,565 for letting uninhabitable rooms.
Haringey Council reckons her rental income is around £188,000 a year.
The prosecutions resulted in total fines of around £3 million – an average of £1,495 a case.
Generation Rent, a housing think-tank takes the opposite view and claims the figures show too many landlords let houses in a poor state of repair regardless of the threat of fines.
The group claims 740,000 rented homes have health hazards or fail to meet safety standards.
According to the HMRC figures, that amounts to around 15% of the 4.9 million private rented homes in England and Wales.
“In the autumn, the government will introduce a housing bill and we need to tell MPs they should take this chance to act on the private rented sector. A whole package of reforms could help the system work more proactively while empowering tenants to stand up to criminal landlords,” said a spokesman for Generation Rent.
One measure the think tank suggests is giving tenants the right to break a tenancy agreement and regain their deposit if their landlord has a housing offence conviction.