London councils are relying more heavily on low-cost ways to penalise landlords and letting agents, resulting in a whopping 532% increase in Rent Repayment Orders during the last three months.
Fines totalling £139,146 were handed out in July, more than doubling June’s figure of £42,500 and up on May’s figure of £22,000, reports geospatial technology firm Kamma.
Its analysis of the Mayor of London’s Rogue Landlord and Letting Agent Checker (RLAC) shows £6.5 million in fines have been handed out since it was set up in 2018.
Both landlords and agents are at risk, with landlords fined more often and agents fined more heavily; the largest single fines ever recorded are £100,000 for a landlord and £167,000 for a letting agent.
Despite housing officers’ work being impacted by lockdown rules and regulations, this data reveals a dramatic return to enforcement practices, says Kamma CEO Orla Shields (pictured, below), who adds that councils are also deploying tenants to support enforcement in a low-cost way by using a checker search tool.
“While the pandemic seems to have reduced enforcement levels, it did not slow the level of regulation which is higher now than at any time before,” she says.
Tower Hamlets Council has issued almost 70 RROs, reclaiming £200,000 in rent, and with other local authorities following suit it’s more important than ever that agents get up to speed, advises Kamma.
“As the NRLA has recently pointed out, it’s right that councils enforce their own regulations, which otherwise would be a tax on good landlords, with rogue individuals continuing as before,” adds Shields.
“The danger is that good landlords and letting agents offering high quality homes to market could still get caught out by a change in regulation. With tenants acting as enforcers, agents and landlords have to stay one step ahead.”
Five-fold increase in London rent repayment order action this summer is written by Nigel Lewis for www.landlordzone.co.uk