Merton council is taking enforcement action against rogue landlords in the borough.

New legal powers have now been set up to help Merton council take enforcement action against private sector landlords who are letting out unsuitable or dangerous properties.

At a meeting on June 3, the council’s Cabinet agreed to look into developing a selective licensing scheme for landlords in areas where there are high numbers of privately rented homes and increased anti-social behaviour or crime and also agreed to the introduction of a civil penalties policy.

The council has the powers to prosecute landlords or impose a fine for breaches of the Housing Act 2004.

However, according to a Freedom of Information submitted by the Wimbledon Times the council has not prosecuted a single unsafe landlord since the start of 2017.

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This was a steep decline from the 2013/14 financial year where 179 of the checks were carried out, or one in every 140.

A rent repayment order can also be made by a tribunal to a landlord for a specific amount of money.

Landlords who have been convicted of an offence can also be legally banned from renting properties and added to a national rogue landlords database.

Around a quarter of housing in Merton is privately rented and in some parts of the borough more than a third of homes are rented by private landlords.

Councillor Martin Whelton said: “As a council, we want to ensure that all properties across Merton which are rented out by private landlords are well maintained, habitable and safe for tenants to live in.

“We are using powers available to us to clamp down on rogue landlords and use enforcement powers on those who are not meeting their legal obligations to their tenants. As a council we are also undertaking further work on a selective licensing scheme which would require all private-rented housing in designated areas to be licensed which would be used to drive up the standards in the private-rented sector.”