Industry News Sam Hunter 09/02/2022

Majority of English local authorities failed to record private rented sector complaints, new NRLA research shows

New research published by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) reveals that a majority of local authorities in England do not accurately record the number of private rented sector tenure complaints which they receive.

These NRLA findings, based on Freedom of Information Act requests, indicate that, in all, 56% of councils do not accurately record the number of complaints they receive concerning private rented sector housing. This figure rises to 61% for those local authorities which have selective licensing schemes.

Amongst those local authorities which did accurately record PRS complaints which they received, each of these councils dealt with an average of 274 complaints per year.

In all, councils conducted a total of just under 100,000 (98,858) inspections under the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHRS) across England between 2018 to 2021. This roughly equates to just 1 in 45 private rented sector properties, according to our findings.

Our research also shows how the recording of these inspections is not consistent across local authorities, with many councils failing to register any of their inspections.

According to our findings, a mere 1% of HHSRS inspections resulted in a follow-up prosecution, with 4% of improvement notices resulting in the imposition of a civil penalty.

Chris Norris, Director, Policy & Campaigns, at the National Residential Landlords Association, said:

“What is needed in order to build a private rented sector which is fair and inclusive for all, is for councils to use all of the powers at their disposal.

“These figures show that there is a long way to go before councils deal effectively with the rogue landlords who bring the sector into disrepute.

“Until councils adopt a more effective approach towards recordkeeping, it will be impossible for them to take the steps necessary to enforce regulations”.

To access the full report, entitled 'The Enforcement Lottery: Local authority inspections and notices', can be found here.