Council Leader Phelim MacCafferty has recently confirmed in a letter sent to the local Brighton branch of ACORN a Community Union that the council are no longer standing by there commitments on increasing fines and prosecuting criminal landlords.
A motion was passed through the Housing Committee last year which committed Brighton council to adopt a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to law-breaking landlords in the area. This change in policy happened following an effective campaign by ACORN Brighton, in response to the union’s discovery that Brighton Council had only prosecuted three landlords in the past decade.
Since the motion was passed ACORN were given commitments from Green Councillor, and Housing Committee Chair, David Gibson, who committed to overseeing an increase in prosecutions and fines. However, since he has blamed being undermined by council staff as the reason no progress has been made on this issue.
Concerned about the lack of progress, and allegations of council staff undermining democratic policy decisions, ACORN has claimed to have raised these issues with council leader Phelim MacCafferty. Phelim responded to the union by confirming that they are no longer adopting a zero-tolerance approach to criminal landlords and no longer committed to overseeing an increase in prosecutions and fines.
Here is an extract from council leader Phelim MacCafferty letter –
‘The number of prosecutions and fines is, on the whole, a poor measure of the effectiveness of the city council’s approach. This fails to recognise that improvements will often be made, for example, most quickly through negotiation with landlords. Where this fails, of course, fines, prosecution and Improvement Notices are a critical part of the enforcement toolkit. This includes the rationale that although landlords will be given a realistic timeframe to make the necessary improvements for the tenant, if they fail to do so within that time frame, the council will act.’
An ACORN spokesperson has commented –
The behaviour of this Council towards private renters in the city is shocking. Brighton has some of the worst housing in the country, with almost 50% of renters being the victims of illegal behaviour from landlords. The Greens claim they are standing up for renters, but they seem to be unwilling or incapable of implementing their own policies.