Tackling Rogue Landlords and Substandard Housing: Local Authorities’ Legal Instruments and their Effectiveness

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Purpose – In 2011, Dutch municipalities requested supplementary legal enforcement instruments to tackle
rogue landlords and substandard housing. The national government implemented new legislation granting
municipalities’ local authorities more legal instruments in 2015. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the
application and effectiveness of these instruments.
Design/methodology/approach – Using both quantitative and qualitative (legal) empirical research
methods, this study establishes the frequency these instruments are used and the manner they are applied in
practice to determine their role in limiting abusive practices of rogue landlords.
Findings – By comparing legislation and policies with their enforcement, the authors pinpoint differences
between the law in the books and the law in practice and argue that the legal instruments have a stronger
effect on the informal power than on formal power of local authorities. Moreover, the paper shows that the
shift of responsibility from the Public Prosecutions Office to local authorities has left the Public Prosecutions
Office disinterested, feeling that it no longer has to deal with substandard housing violations at all, therefore
leaving the repeat offenders free to continue their activities with minor consequences.
Originality/value – The paper presents original data on the ways governments address substandard
housing and rogue landlords. This is the first study that analyses the fight against substandard housing in
the Dutch context. Although centred on legislation and procedures in The Netherland, the paper’s findings are
relevant in other jurisdictions facing similar issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-19
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Property, Planning and Environmental Law
Issue number1
Early online date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Legislation
  • The Netherlands
  • Enforcement Instruments
  • Habitability
  • Rogue Landlords
  • Substandard Housing

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