New powers to crack down on rogue landlords in the Fens
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Councillors have backed new powers which could see rogue landlords fined up to £30,000.
Fenland District Council has voted to adopt a new housing enforcement policy to help drive up standards in the private rental sector and get tough on those renting substandard and unsafe accommodation.
The civil penalties for the worst offenders will be used as an alternative and quicker way to launching criminal prosecutions in cases of serious housing offences.
Dee Laws, the council’s portfolio holder responsible for private sector housing, said: “Our approach will ensure prevention and intervention before enforcement action wherever possible. We will continue to work with and support landlords to ensure their properties are safe and in a good condition, but we will be tough with those who break the rules.
“By driving unscrupulous landlords who profit from providing poor quality and dangerous homes out of business, we can raise standards and give tenants the protection they need. If you’re a good landlord you should have nothing to fear.”
The new policy comes after the government introduced the civil penalties as part of its clamp down on criminal landlords, with local authorities now having the option to decide whether to prosecute or issue a penalty. Fines could be imposed for offences such as failing to comply with improvement notices and overcrowding.
The policy also incorporates new powers that allow the Council to recover the costs of enforcement from landlords whose properties are not up to scratch.
A report to councillors said this would help ensure that landlords who do comply with the law and the council tax payers do not have to meet all the costs of housing regulation.
Other key features of the policy using rent repayment orders for certain housing offences. These orders can require a landlord to repay rent back to the tenant or, in the case of rent through benefits, to the local authority.
From October, new property licensing rules will also mean landlords who rent out houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) where there are five or more people sharing, will have to apply to the council for a property licence to operate lawfully. Failure to secure a licence could result in a fine of up to £30,000.