Ministers and councils are not doing enough to stamp out rogue landlords who should have their rental homes confiscated, urges a group of influential MPs.
They want to see a tougher crack down on criminal landlords who exploit tenants.
The cross-party Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, has published a hard-hitting report looking at the private rented sector.
The report claims 880,000 of the estimated 4 million private rented homes have at least one serious hazard, but 44% of tenants fear eviction if they complain.
The MPs also hit out at local councils, who they accuse of failing to enforce housing laws with only 40% prosecuting a landlord in 2016.
As for stricter powers given to councils to crack down on landlords, the committee argues that the powers were meaningless as local authorities lack the resources to enforce them.
The committee has recommended:
- More safeguards for tenants to stop retaliatory evictions, rent increases and harassment
- More money for councils to enforce housing law
- Better information explaining rights and responsibilities to landlords and tenants
- Councils should publish their enforcement strategies
- A new housing court;
- A review aimed at simplifying private rented sector housing laws
Committee chairman Clive Betts said:
“The imbalance in power in the private rented sector means vulnerable tenants often lack protection from unscrupulous landlords who can threaten them with retaliatory rent rises and eviction if they complain about unacceptable conditions in their homes.
“Councils need the power to levy more substantial fines against landlords, and in the case of the most serious offenders, ultimately be able to confiscate their properties.
“Such powers are however meaningless if they are not enforced, and at the same time councils need more resources to carry out effective prosecutions.
“Stronger powers, harsher fines and a new commitment to cracking down on unscrupulous practices will go some way towards rebalancing the sector and protecting the many thousands of vulnerable residents who have been abused and harassed by a landlord.”