Edinburgh ‘too soft’ on bad landlords

Stefan Tymkewycz. Picture: comp

Stefan Tymkewycz. Picture: comp

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EDINBURGH has been branded a “light touch” on rogue landlords after it emerged the city is failing to use beefed-up penalties to protect wronged tenants.

Figures released under Freedom of Information show the Capital has issued just two rent penalty notices (RPNs) on crooked property owners compared with nearly 1200 meted out in Glasgow.

The stark enforcement gap has led campaigners to demand a harder line from the local authority, which oversees around 50,000 private rents – nearly one in five properties
in the city. New antisocial behaviour powers – introduced in 2004 – have remained largely untapped in Edinburgh despite a stream of complaints against mostly unregistered landlords heaping “misery” on tenants.

Once an RPN is slapped on an unregistered property owner, they are not permitted to collect any money from a tenant until they register with the council. The penalties can also be enforced if a tenant persistently breaches antisocial behaviour laws.

Councillor Stefan Tymkewycz condemned the “inaction” and pledged to press officials to get tougher. He said: “Too many tenants suffer at the hands of rogue landlords. I hear of many horrific incidents from my own constituents, although most misery is caused by unregistered landlords.

“There is regulation in place for landlords and most comply with it. I will be pressing officers to apply the regulations more rigorously to unscrupulous landlords.”

Edinburgh Private Tenants Action Group expressed “disappointment” that the council “trails so far behind Glasgow on enforcement measures” and said the high demand for housing in the Capital made it “difficult for tenants to simply avoid the worst landlords”.

A spokeswoman added: “Edinburgh City Council’s light touch approach is not working.

“Tenants need local authorities to enforce the existing laws, because for certain landlords the threat of financial penalties is the only thing that will persuade them to improve their properties and their business practices.

“There is no incentive for landlords to obey the law if they think they can get away with breaking it.” Councillor Gavin Barrie, convenor of the regulatory committee, said: “Where landlords are not complying and have failed to respond to advice from the council, we do take appropriate action. We will work closely with any tenants who feel their landlord does not comply and will take appropriate enforcement action to respond to any concerns.”

david.mccann@edinburghnews.com