More than half of local authorities in England have not issued any civil penalties against rogue or criminal landlords in the last three years, according to the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).
Since April 2017 councils across England have been able to issue civil penalties of up to £30,000 for a range of housing offences.
Income received can be reinvested to help finance further enforcement against criminal operators.
Shawbrook: Half of private landlords cut rent in 2020
Despite this, the results of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests by the NRLA show that between 2018-19 and 2020-21, only 130 local authorities in England out of 275 replying to the survey (47%) had issued any civil penalties.
Furthermore, 71% of all civil penalties were issued by just 7% of the local authorities, and 40% of councils that had issued civil penalties had issued between just one and five over the past three years.
In total, fewer than 3,200 civil penalties were issued over the last three years by the local authorities responding to the survey. This is despite Ministers suggesting during the passage of the legislation to introduce them that there may be 10,500 rogue landlords in operation.
Chris Norris, director of policy and campaigns at the NRLA, said: “Our findings show that most councils are failing to use all the tools available to them to tackle rogue and criminal landlords.
“By failing to apply appropriate sanctions to punish wrongdoing, councils are weakening the principle of deterrence which underpins the civil penalties regime.
“We are calling on all councils to ensure they are making full and proper use of the powers they have to tackle those landlords who cause misery to tenants and bring the sector into disrepute.
“The government’s plans to reform the private rented sector due later this year will mean nothing if changes are not properly enforced.”