A council has used government funding to help tackle rogue landlords in private renting.

Rossendale Borough Council applied for Rogue Landlord Funding in 2018 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and were successful in their bid.

The money has been used in a multi-agency approach to clampdown on dodgy practices, concentrating on making landlords comply with fire safety legislation and meet minimum privately rented standards.

The main focus has been in town centres, where accommodation is often above shops and restaurants and is at increased fire risk due to the gas and electrical appliances in use.

Some of this accommodation is occupied by vulnerable people and has often been converted into multi- occupied property, sometimes without appropriate planning, building control or fire safety input.

Portfolio Holder for Communities and Customers, Councillor Steve Hughes, said: "We are determined to tackle rogue landlords in the borough.

"Tenants deserve a decent standard of living and this partnership work means that safety measures have been made and standards have been brought up.

"It is the legal responsibility of landlords and businesses to make sure they meet all of these standards and landlords who knowingly rent out unsafe and substandard accommodation will be made to comply."

The funding has also helped the council to carry out multi agency visits with the police and revenue protection officers from British Gas, to takeaways and restaurants in the Rossendale area to identify possible illegal abstraction of gas and electric supplies, and identify accommodation that does not comply with current regulations.

The project is ongoing, but so far the council has carried out over 30 inspections and issues have been found with gas and electric meters at 10 premises – three of which were found to have serious and potentially dangerous health and safety implications.

This resulted in prohibition notices being served which prevented electrical reconnections being made until the electrics had been made safe.

Lancashire fire and rescue service have a joint enforcing role and would also like to remind business and landlords.

Acting Area Manager, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, Head of Service Development Tony Crook, said: "Landlords and leaseholders are responsible for the safety of tenants and/or staff within these types of premises, and as such have a duty to ensure that people who use these premises are provided with a safe environment.

"Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service will continue to focus our efforts and resources in providing advice and support to landlords that want it, but as with many cases will adopt a robust enforcement approach to deal with those who compromise on safety particularly where they show a blatant disregard to their tenant’s safety.

"I hope that landlords can see that responsibilities to meet fire safety obligations but fail to do so face severe penalties."