Under the Housing and Planning Act, councils now have the ability to issue civil penalties to rogue landlords who flout housing regulations and put tenants at risk of harm.
East Lindsey District Council (ELDC) receives over 200 complaints a year from tenants experiencing poor living conditions, and this has resulted in the Council issuing around 45 ‘improvement notices’ to landlords over the past three years - covering issues such as lack of fire precautions, cold and draughty properties, properties with damp and mould, and lack of safety checks on gas appliances.
Prior to the changes in legislation, the only power available to ELDC to tackle a landlord not maintaining their property to the required standard was lengthy court action, but the new legislation means that it is possible to deal with landlords more quickly.
Civil Penalties can be issued for the following offences: failure to comply with an improvement notice, offences in relation to licensing of houses in multiple occupation, offences of contravention of an overcrowding notice, and failure to comply with management regulations in respect of houses in multiple occupation.
ELDC has adopted an enforcement procedure that seeks to impose the highest penalty on the very worst offenders. The maximum fine that can be imposed is £30,000.
The Council’s Portfolio Holder for Communities, Coun Wendy Bowkett, said: “The additional powers will provide more flexibility in how the Council is able to resolve issues with landlords.
“Whilst the vast majority of landlords in our area are very good, there are some who fail to maintain acceptable standards and in some cases have been found to have put the lives of tenants at risk by not undertaking necessary works to maintain properties.
“Taking a prosecution to court can be a lengthy process, so these new powers are a welcome tool and promoting the fact we will use the civil penalty where necessary should send a strong message to those landlords who don’t abide by the rules.”
Further details of the new enforcement procedure and penalty structure can be viewed online at www.e-lindsey.gov.uk/housingstandards