A TENANTS' union has accused the council of letting down renters after research found that the council prosecuted no landlords in the last three years.

An investigation by OpenDemocracy found that half of councils in England and Wales, including Brighton and Hove City Council, have not prosecuted a single rogue landlord between 2018 and 2021, despite a rise in the number of complaints from tenants.

The study came a month after a government report found that 13 per cent of private rented homes have at least one hazard that poses a serious threat to health and safety, compared to ten per cent for owner-occupied homes and five per cent for social housing.

The report by the National Audit Office also highlighted that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of private rented homes are classed as 'non-decent', meaning they pose an immediate threat to a tenant's health, are not in a fit state of repair, lack modern facilities or not well insulated or heated.

A spokesman from ACORN said that the report's finding were "unsurprising" and that "exploitative landlords have gone unchallenged for too long".

He said: "Brighton and Hove City Council has failed miserably and let down renters who deserve better.

"We are pleased to have recently forced a commitment from the council to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to rogue landlords and to create a public database of law-breaking landlords, but this progress needs to be followed through and backed up by firm and meaningful action on these promises if we are to fix the housing crisis in our city.”

Brighton and Hove's lead councillor for the private rented sector Martin Osbourne said that the council has a good track record for resolving issues informally but that they will not hesitate to take stronger action where appropriate to "make sure we support good quality, well managed private sector housing".

He said: "Since agreeing a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to rogue landlords very recently, as part of decisions taken at our Housing Committee, we’ve been taking what steps we can to move towards this.

“We’ve invested nearly £200,000 this year to recruit additional staff to our housing enforcement team. This team will work pro-actively to raise awareness of our service, find problems that haven’t been reported to us, and support our commitment to providing good quality private sector homes.

“Yet like so many other services, the roll-out of this has been affected as council services were hit by the impact of the pandemic and the knock-on effect on staffing too.

“We’ve also been clear that we would welcome extra funding to create more enforcement capacity – as government funding has so far failed to address the issue of rogue landlords to date.

“We will review the financial and legal implications of setting up a local database of landlords and agents who have been prosecuted or fined by the council.

“However we’re also lobbying for increased powers from government and action in the planned, national ‘Renters Reform Bill,’ for both a national database and a licensing framework that will allow us to take swifter, well-resourced action to support renters in the private rented sector.”

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