Bristol City Council has been given additional funding to target criminal landlords and help protect tenants across the city.
The Home Office has given the council £321,750 from the Controlling Migration Fund to help drive up standards in the private rented sector over the next two years.
Migrants are over-represented in the private rented sector in Bristol, particularly in properties in poor condition.
The council now plans to use the government funding to conduct intelligence work to identify and target rogue landlords in the city, and to take enforcement action where necessary.
The council investigates unsafe houses and flats every day, but usually it relies upon tenants reporting poor conditions.
This means that some landlords can get away with not complying with the law because their tenants don’t come forward.
The council is now actively encouraging tenants to come forward if they have concerns about the conditions of their rented properties, which they have not been able to resolve with their landlord.
Councillor Paul Smith, Cabinet Member for Homes, said: “Across the city people are finding it increasingly difficult to access decent, affordable homes.
“In Bristol we are working hard to tackle criminal landlords and through this extra funding, we expect to see a reduction in the number of these criminal landlords letting out poor quality accommodation and exploiting tenants.
“Making sure that everyone in Bristol has a safe, comfortable place to call home, is one of our key priorities, and we are doing all we can to make this a reality. We intend to use all enforcement powers at our disposal where appropriate.”
This new funding will also enable the private housing team to recruit three new officers to carry out this additional work.
The officers will work with partners including Avon and Somerset Police and Immigration Compliance Enforcement (ICE) to identify properties where there are likely to be high levels of exploitation and trafficking. Officers will carry out proactive inspections of these premises, using our powers of entry to gain access to all dwellings.
The team will also respond to complaints and enquiries from tenants and members of the public. It is estimated that approximately 1,200 inspections will be undertaken over the two year period, equivalent to approximately 312 streets being covered across the city.
In 2016 the council was awarded money from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to carry out similar work targeting criminal landlords. During this time the private housing team inspected 153 individual properties, served 20 enforcement notices and carried out four prosecutions.
For more information on private renting visit: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/housing/private-tenants
To report a landlord or rented property, call in confidence: 0117 3525 010 during office hours.