“The place is disgusting… they should take it all down”, says Liz Armour Crosbie, an activist with the Govanhill Community Campaign who blames rogue landlords for overcrowding and destroying her neighbourhood.
It is estimated there are around 2,600 private landlords in the Govanhill area. In the past nine months, 22 of them have been banned from renting properties worth £5 million due to hazardous conditions that some desperate tenants (mostly eastern European immigrants) were found living in. No hot water, dangerous wiring, poor sanitation and faulty windows are only some examples of faults found in the substandard properties where rooms were charged at as much as £500 a month.
Richard Brown, executive director for development and regeneration services at Glasgow City Council, admits “particular problems with landlords have been identified” but he assures that “whenever there is evidence that a landlord is no longer a suitable person to rent out property or they fail to manage their property appropriately”, an action will always be taken.
The rogue landlords now face criminal prosecution and a £50,000 fine if they attempt to rent properties in the future. They will lose their properties under compulsory purchase laws, unless they agree to sell them to Glasgow City Council who have set aside £48 million to bring up to 500 properties under public ownership.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, in whose Holyrood constituency many of the aforementioned properties fall in, said: “I welcome the fact that as a result of community, Government and Glasgow Council efforts, rogue landlords are being identified and action is being taken to improve properties in the area.”
First of its kind
Glasgow City Council is the first in Scotland to designate an Enhanced Enforcement Area (EEA) under Section 28 of the Housing (Scotland) Act to tackle rogue landlords. Initially this only included four tenements in Govanhill. However, the powers now have been extended to a further 14 blocks, giving the officials the right to enter into properties without the owner’s permission if there are complaints from residents about the manner in which the properties are being managed by landlords.
Housing minister Kevin Stewart, said: “The success of Govanhill’s first EEA is clear. During initial inspections only 21 properties within the area met the Repairing Standard requirements. Now, through the council’s ongoing engagement with landlords, 175 properties met the standard on their second inspection.”
He added: “The additional powers will ensure the council can intervene directly on housing problems faced by residents in the area. “
Properties taken over by the local authority will be managed by Govanhill Housing Association on a day to day basis. Development and regeneration manager at Govanhill Housing Association, Ken MacDougall, commented: “We’ve campaigned long and hard to ensure there is more regulation of the private rental sector.”
The new designated Enhanced Enforcement Area includes tenement blocks located in:
Albert Road, Allison Street, Annette Street, Bankhall Street, Belleisle Street, Bowman Street, Calder Street, Cathcart Road, Daisy Street, Dixon Avenue, Garturk Street, Langside Road, Victoria Road and Westmoreland Street.