Cambridge Rented Sector – Council Targets Dodgy Landlords

closureorder08:20 Wednesday 16th January 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[P]AUL STAINTON: Cambridge City Council wants to get tough on rogue landlords, advertising for a Landlord Liaison Officer to inspect rented properties around the city. Decent salary, forty grand a year. It’s also looking to set up an empty homes office, with a further £40,000 from the Government’s new Homes Bonus. So how bad is the accommodation offered in Cambridge’s rented sector? Well Catherine Smart is Executive Councillor for Housing at Cambridge City Council. She’s with us this morning. Morning.
CATHERINE SMART: Good morning. Can I just correct one thing. £40,000 is what we’re putting into the budget. That wouldn’t be the salary, because of all the on-costs of employing somebody.
PAUL STAINTON: Alright. What is the salary?
CATHERINE SMART: I don’t know. But that is the budget bid to employ somebody. But it wouldn’t all be salary.
PAUL STAINTON: Ok. Some of it will though.
CATHERINE SMART: Oh yes. Yes. Oh yes. Oh yes. It will be a decent salary. But as I said not £40,000. But I felt I had to ..
PAUL STAINTON: No no. Fine. How big is the problem?
CATHERINE SMART: What? Which one?
PAUL STAINTON: The problem (LAUGHS) with rogue landlords.
CATHERINE SMART: Oh. Not very big. It’s ..
PAUL STAINTON: Well what’s the point in doing this then, if it’s not very big?
CATHERINE SMART: Just a minute. Give me a chance to answer. The .. it .. we already prosecute rogue landlords. What we don’t do is preventative work, proactive inspections. We inspect when there’s a complaint, but what we want to do is, if a landlord has a complaint, and we inspect that property, if they’ve got other properties, to go and inspect those, to deal with things before there’s a complaint, to try and raise the standard. It’s the sub-standard landlords. We already prosecute rogue landlords. But it’s the sub-standard landlords we want to raise, get their standards up.
PAUL STAINTON: How do you deal with things before there’s a complaint? How do you know?
CATHERINE SMART: Well as I said, if you’ve got a landlord who’s got half a dozen properties, and there’s a complaint in one place, it’s perfectly legal to go and inspect all their other places. But we haven’t had the number, we haven’t had the officers to be able to do that. So that’s the sort of thing that we’re wanting to do.
PAUL STAINTON: But you’re already saying it’s not a big problem, so what’s the point?
CATHERINE SMART: I said there’s not a big problem of rogue landlords. But the sub-standard landlords, that’s more difficult to quantify. And we want to just raise the standard of the whole lot of it.
PAUL STAINTON: Ok. And where’s the money coming from for this?
CATHERINE SMART: It’s coming out of the general funds of the Council.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. One person, yes?
CATHERINE SMART: We’re employing one extra person.
PAUL STAINTON: Right. Ok. So how many more inspections do you think will take place?
CATHERINE SMART: Errr. I don’t know, because it may be more .. they may be doing other things as well that are other proactive things as well. So .. but quite a lot I would have thought.
PAUL STAINTON: Quite a lot. Ok. Thank you for that.