The government has announced a £4 million grant for local authorities to tackle rogue landlords. It's great news that Northampton has received a government grant of £196K to extend and develop the intelligence led, targeted work which the Housing Enforcement Team have been pioneering.
We have some very good landlords in the town but unfortunately we also have a number who exploit the system and carry out serious criminal activity on our streets and in our neighbourhoods.
This Innovative and Enforcement Grant will pay for the team of experts to expand and develop excellent practice, working in partnership with other agencies, police, fire and rescue, immigration, trading standards, gangmasters and set up a Special Operations Unit to work in the coming months.
We need our residents to live in safe, well managed homes. Overcrowding, unlicensed HiMOs, cold damp properties, squalid and dangerous conditions are all against the law. Modern slavery, sexual exploitation, cuckooing and county lines thrive in such conditions. Tenants need a secure lease and decent homes. The private sector has opened the floodgates for criminal landlords and gangsters to profiteer out of people's misery.
This funding will last for three months and we wait to see the continued success of this Special Operations Unit. What will be needed is further government funding to continue to develop this vital work. The model developed here needs to be expanded to other councils who are not approaching tackling the criminal landlords in the same way. Northampton is a trailblazer in this respect.
Unfortunately the closure and disbanding of the unlicensed, illegal rental properties will make people homeless which will, in turn, increase the council's budget for temporary housing.
Ultimately we need more 'council type housing' where we can provide safe and secure homes for life. If sufficient truly affordable homes were available, the opportunity for landlords to exploit the most vulnerable would not be so easy.
We will be supporting NBC's approach over the coming months. Extra government resources will be needed to extend this potentially groundbreaking pilot. We hope that the success of the Special Operations Unit and the example of good practice will attract the funding from central government for this vital work to continue.