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24 October 2018
Landlords classed as unfit to rent properties are exploiting loopholes in the law and continuing to operate.
In 2006, the licensing of landlords was introduced as part of the Housing Act to force rogue landlords to clean up their act.
The new findings by the Guardian newspaper and ITV News have raised questions whether local authorities have the resources to enforce licensing regulations.
Local authorities have failed to make a single entry on to the central government’s new rogue landlord database in the six months since its launch.
Landlords who fail the fit and proper test in one local authority area are still able to operate in others.
According to the investigation, Adrian Webb, a former firefighter, was convicted in 2016 for renting out a property in Liverpool that breached fire regulations. He failed the fit and proper person test but continued to be a landlord for properties in neighbouring St Helens, where he was convicted of further failings.
Other convicted landlords include Bernard McGowan, who boasts a £30 million property empire; Gary Fixter, a landlord convicted in North Yorkshire and the Wirral; David McGuiness, who rented out a home described as a ‘shed’; and Katia Goremsandu, once dubbed the ‘country’s worst landlord’.
Since 2013, landlord licensing schemes have expanded, but they vary hugely across the country.
Jacky Peacock, a director of the tenants’ charity Advice4Renters, said: “Having campaigned for many years to get (landlord) licensing on the statute books, we’ve been devastated that implementation has been so flawed.
“We see licences being issued even where a landlord has had previous convictions so shouldn’t reasonably be deemed to be a fit and proper person as the law requires. Even if he is prevented from holding a licence in one area, there’s a good chance he will be operating somewhere else.”
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