Zero tolerance on poor landlords in Sheffield

We have zero tolerance with poor landlords.

By Lucy Ashton
Monday, 01 July, 2019, 08:45
Janet Sharpe, director of housing at Sheffield Council

That’s the message from Sheffield Council’s housing director, who says she will use every power she has to ensure tenants are safe.

Janet Sharpe, director of housing and neighbourhoods service, said: “Homes need to be safe, well maintained and habitable and we have zero tolerance with landlords who don’t comply.

“As a council we have a statutory responsibility to make sure tenants are safe and free from intimidation and to make sure they are okay in these properties.

“If landlords do that, the council will support them but we will pursue at all costs any landlords who fail to do right by their tenants and make them live in unsafe and poor accommodation.

“If landlords have not fulfilled their duty, ultimately we will serve notice and that could mean, in extreme cases, that everyone has to leave the property.”

In Page Hall, Selective Licensing – where landlords are forced to bring properties up to a good standard – led to around £1m of investment in 350 properties.

The Selective Licensing has now come to an end but Ms Sharpe said the council still had powers to protect tenants.

She added: “It’s about having officers on the ground to be able to make sure that we are spotting things at the earliest point. They won’t walk away, they will deal with these households.

“I will use my private sector housing powers against any landlord that fails to keep their property maintained and I have a whole range of powers that can be used on an individual property basis.”

Poor quality housing can affect people’s health, wellbeing and ability to work.

Ms Sharpe added: “The fabric of our homes starts to impact on our health, it stops us from living that quality of life. Children need to be able to go to school with dry clothes and no health issues that have come from a cold, damp home.

“Tenants need to know their responsibilities as much as landlords and if we get that right and take the appropriate action, people will be healthier, hold down jobs and have a good quality of life.”

Ms Sharpe called on the Government to raise housing standards too and said Sheffield had been lobbying.

“Nationally the standard of housing before a council can legitimately intervene is quite low. The property has to be watertight with a working cooker and running water but when we as a council think of what is a decent standard, we think it goes beyond the most basic amenities,” she added.

“The legal requirements of what is a suitable home is very different to what we would all want to see.

“The regulations that we have to work to are quite rigid. We can take action but we do have limits in terms of what we can legitimately regulate and we have been working with the government because the time has come to raise those standards. I think that would help lots of local authorities when they are trying to regulate the private sector.

“They should be aligned with modern day standards. The government was going to look at a decent homes standard for both council and private homes and that work is overdue because we want consistent standards to help us regulate more effectively.”