Don't Stop Believin' Journey
Torbay is getting tougher with rogue landlords who're giving the bay a bad name.
Already this year 25 housing related notices have been sent out and a formal letter - a notice that works must be undertaken or a legal notice will be served - have been issued 102 times, that's about 20 a month or 1 every working day.
The council's targeted enforcement across the rented housing sector in Torbay is intended to improve standards of accommodation.
Landlords providing poor standards of accommodation, not effectively managing their properties or acting outside the law, can expect to be investigation.
And already the council is:
* Successfully prosecuting a landlord who was providing particularly poor accommodation to a number of vulnerable tenants
* Taking legal action to require the sale of sub-standard properties in cases where money owed to the local authority remains unpaid
* Undertaking formal recorded interviews under caution with four landlords for alleged breaches of housing legislation
* Carrying out targeted inspections of some of the Bay's worst properties and in doing so securing necessary improvements
* Serving more legal notices on landlords in the last four months than in the whole of 2012 to secure essential works to their properties to improve standards.
In addition to the targeted action to tackle rogue landlords, the council is taking positive action to support good landlords and promote good practice.
The council recently hosted its first landlord training event in partnership with South West Landlords Association.
Attended by 17 local landlords, the course was designed to help landlords to understand their responsibilities when letting a property, to give them hints and tips on how to make the most of their business and to enable them to access a national accreditation scheme.
Mayor Gordon Oliver said: "I am pleased with the progress being made on this project. I am fully aware of the strength of feeling about the minority of bad landlords who are giving the majority of good landlords a bad name, and we will continue to identify and address landlords who are falling well short of the standards that are expected of them.
"We are grateful to those landlords who are providing a good service for their tenants, but we are committed to taking whatever action is necessary in order to ensure that all landlords comply with their responsibilities under housing legislation.
"Our work is being undertaken with our partners in the fire and police services. This approach is helping us to tackle the range of problems that poorly managed properties cause for their neighbours."
Peter Lewis, Chairman of the Devon Landlords' Association (DLA), has welcomed the council's initiative in dealing with some landlords who he said were "abusing the rights of their tenants and allowing unacceptable behaviour to blight our neighbourhoods. There are a great many excellent landlords in Torbay who resent the bad name a few create for us all.
"To help protect the reputation of good landlords and to provide help and support as difficult and changing times affect the private renting sector, we are encouraging all landlords to join associations like the DLA.
"Associations provide advice, support and training to their members enabling them to understand fully the problems they face and provide effective ways of dealing with them."
Nick Burleigh, Chairman of the Melville Hill Community Group, was among those who attended a recent meeting updating people on the landlords project, and he welcomed the progress being made.
He said: "The council team tasked with bringing to account the Bay's rogue landlords, their agents, bad housing and related anti-social behaviour in badly hit areas was hugely welcomed a year ago by deprived communities, and is starting to bite and turn the fortunes of vulnerable people and affected communities, particularly in the town centres of Torquay and Paignton.
"A year ago many tenants were simply too afraid to complain about their housing problems in fear of losing their homes.
"A local resident in our area is set to get a thousand signatures from Torbay residents who themselves now feel empowered to share personal experiences of bad housing in the Bay or simply want to evidence their own support for this team, its valuable and on-going work for justice and social change."
Landlords wishing to enrol on one of the training courses should contact Robert Kelly on Tel: 01803208025 or visit www.lasw.co.uk