Rogue landlords could face fines of up to £30,000 under new council powers.
Thanet council is expected to agree to adopt a policy under housing act legislation which will allow it to issue the civil fines for breaches including a failure to manage waste at a property or failing to licence a house in multiple occupation.
The legislation allows for a sliding scale of fines, dependent on the severity of the offence, from £1,000 up to £30,000.
The cash would be kept by the council to fund further private sector housing enforcement activities.
Council Cabinet members are expected to agree the policy at a meeting tomorrow (March 14) with the fines – which will be an alternative to prosecution – coming into effect from April 1.
At present, any fines from successful prosecutions are collected by the courts and passed to the Treasury. The council may be awarded some or all of its prosecution costs.
If the policy is adopted, the council will be entitled to retain all money collected. The housing act also has provision for banning orders, issued via a tribunal, and those who breach this face imprisonment, or to a fine, or to both. Now the council could impose the fine instead.
Penalties will be issued for
Failing to comply with an Improvement Notice;
Failing to licence a house in multiple occupation (“HMO”);
Knowingly permitting the over-occupation of a licensed HMO;
Failing to comply with the condition of an HMO licence;
Failing to licence a house subject to selective licensing;
Failing to comply with the condition of a selective licence;
Failing to comply with an overcrowding notice in respect of a non-licensable HMO;
Failing to comply with HMO management regulations.
Breaching a banning order.
The council had successfully prosecuted 11 private sector landlords in the 2018/19 financial year (April 2018 to December 2018). The total amount of fines and victim surcharges handed down by the Magistrates’ Court amounted to £41,820. This averages £3,802 per prosecution. The total amount of prosecution costs awarded to the council was £3,165, which averages £288 per case.
The sliding scale of fines will take into account severity and also the size of an offender’s portfolio. The report says: “While all landlords and agents are expected to be aware of their legal obligations, the larger the business is, the more proficient and professional the landlord or agent should be. Furthermore, offenders with a larger portfolio will have more assets and a higher rental income and as such the penalty should have regard to their ability to pay.”
Before imposing fine, the council must issue a “Notice of Intent,” which can then be appealed. The council can then decide to withdraw the fine or impose a lower or equal amount to that in the Notice of Intent, which will result in a Final Notice being served.
The same criminal standard of proof is required for a financial penalty as for a prosecution.
Payment within 21 days of the date the Final Notice will mean a 25% reduction.
Most Thanet based Landlords are decent and obey the licensing conditions. There are a few though that think they are above the law or leave the running of their premises to agents. Often the agents don’t communicate with those landlords and repairs don’t get done. If an agent is taking a percent from the rents then they should also be liable for breaches of regulations and licensing conditions.
In Cliftonville there is a high amount of breaches going on that are not being dealt with properly by the council department responsible. Tenants are sick of reporting over and over repairs that need fixing without getting any response from the landlords, agents or council even. Yes, proper delegation of wheelie bins and rubbish is a huge problem in Cliftonville and beyond with household litter on the streets. Educating and fineing those responsible for dumping/fly-tipping rubbish is important but essential repairs to tenants homes is even more so. Many of these tenants are left feeling that the selective licensing is just a racket as nothing gets done for them when they complain.
Council should not fine as that does nothing in the end. What should happen is the landlord gets 1 weeks warning to fix the problems then could should send in the builder’s to fix all the reported problems and if the landlord hasn’t provided the cash then proceedings should be taken to take over possession! I’m sure regulations can be changed to assist this.
Can the start in Surrey Road please? This week I tried to help a couple with virtually no English with a sodden bathroom floor that had collapsed. Yes the agent sent someone to look at it but a promise of an update as to what is to happen is now 2 days overdue. Same flat has mould in the bedroom from damp. Perhaps environmental health need to become active.
My son is living in a house owned by a rogue landlord in Surry Road with his girlfriend and her mum,the house is falling apart and there is black mould upstairs,rain seeps in and this landlord only hires rogue traders who do bad workmanship.im so worried about them and it’s affecting their health.