Rogue landlords in Manchester fined thousands of pounds in council crackdown on mould, cold and unsafe housing

Almost one in five of the properties inspected had serious hazards, the council said.

Landlords have been fined thousands of pounds as part of a crackdown on unsafe housing in Manchester after mould, cold and fire hazards were found.

A five-year landlord licensing scheme in Crumpsall which has now finished found nearly a fifth of the 177 properties inspected had ‘serious hazards’.

A total of 31 private rented properties had ‘serious issues’ relating to fire safety, damp, mould and excessive cold, according to Manchester City Council.

Six civil penalty notices were issued to landlords during the five-year scheme resulting in £36,050 in fines with the highest single sanction costing £10,550.

It comes as the council looks to introduce eight similar schemes – in parts of Moss Side, Levenshulme, Longsight, Cheetham and Rusholme – adding to the seven selective licensing areas which are already in force across the city.

How the council is tackling rogue landlords and poor standards in rented housing

Private landlords with properties in these designated areas must pay for a licence and could face fines of up to £30,000 if they fail to meet standards.

This approach to the private rented sector is part of the council’s new housing strategy for the next 10 years which includes building 36,000 new affordable homes and retrofitting 70,000 existing social homes to cut carbon emissions.

Labour councillor Gavin White, who is the executive member for housing and development at Manchester City Council, said that these schemes aim to increase the ‘professionalism’ in the way that privately rented homes are managed.

He said: “Everyone in this city deserves a safe, secure and decent home.

“That’s why a key element of our new housing strategy is to work to continually improve the city’s private sector housing.

“And this means working with the sector through schemes like Selective Licensing to ensure good standards.

Numerous faults were uncovered at properties inspected in the Crumpsall selective licensing scheme. Photo: Manchester City Council

“Ultimately, Selective Licensing is designed to increase the professionalism to which privately rented homes are managed – and we can see clear evidence from the first scheme in Crumpsall that serious issues have been found and landlords have been ordered to do works to improve their properties for residents.

“Of course we know that the majority of landlords in the city do take their responsibility seriously.

“But interventions like property licensing mean we can be serious about tackling those landlords who seem content in renting out homes that are either poor quality or dangerous.

“There is no place for rogue landlords in our city.

“We want those landlords to know that this is unacceptable and we will do everything in our power to bring them to account.

“These eight new schemes across the city will help us to achieve that.”

What did the Crumpsall scheme find?

Under the Crumpsall scheme, first introduced in March 2017, 372 properties were granted licences, of which 177 were inspected after initial safety checks.

Most properties were found to be broadly or fully compliant, but 31 were not, with excess cold accounting for a fifth of the most serious issues identified.

Around 60 fire hazards were found during inspections of which more than 10 were Category 1 – the most serious kind, requiring the council to take action.

Damp and mould accounted for the second highest number of Category 2 hazards, followed by electrical hazards, domestic hygiene, pests and refuse.

There were problems with damp and mould at properties in Crumpsall inspected under the scheme. Photo: Manchester City Council

In one case, a landlord with a large portfolio of properties required licences for 20 homes – many of which were not being maintained – in the Crumpsall area.

Fly tipping was found to be a particular issue in two blocks of properties where residents would regularly gather, resulting in reports of anti-social behaviour.

Poor conditions were identified in the properties when they were inspected, with rough sleeping found to be taking place in the basement of the building.

Enforcement notices were served on the proprietor, requiring the landlord to address maintenance issues, after officers worked with vulnerable residents.

Serious hazards were found at almost one in five properties inspected. Photo: Manchester City Council

Recognising the amount of work required to maintain his properties to a decent standard, the landlord sold off one of the blocks containing six flats.

The remaining 14 licensed properties were maintained to a good standard, according to a council report which claims the scheme had a ‘positive impact’.

In total, 20 improvement notices were served on landlords in Crumpsall, ordering them to address standards, and a further four notices issued prevented dangerous properties being used until standards improved.

Six civil penalty notices relating to housing offences were issued with fines totalling £36,050, including two for landlords who failed to apply for a licence.

Where are the proposed new selective housing schemes in Manchester?

Manchester City Council is launching a consultation on eight further schemes of selective licensing which already have approval from the top town hall bosses.

The future schemes, which could come into effect from spring 2023, are:

  • Moss Side: Claremont Road / Great Western St
  • Levenshulme: Matthews Lane
  • Longsight: The Royals
  • Cheetham – Esmond/Avondale
  • Cheetham: Heywood St/Cheetham Hill Rd
  • Rusholme: Birch Lane
  • Rusholme: Laindon/Dickenson
  • Cheetham: Flats Over Shops: Cheetham Hill Rd

There are selective licensing schemes already in force in Moss Side, Moston, Old Moat, Gorton and Abbey Hey, Harpurhey and Clayton and Openshaw.