Rogue landlords should face £30,000 fines

The Local Government Association has said that rogue landlords who commit housing offences should be fined a minimum of £30,000 by magistrates.

The English Housing Survey has revealed that 27 per cent of privately rented homes failed to meet the decent homes standard in 2016., while eight per cent of properties also had some type of damp problem.

Although new powers provide local authorities with the option of enforcing fines up to £30,000 for some offences, such as failing to license a property, they do not extend to housing offences. In most cases, it comes down to how much the landlord can afford not the weight or severity of the offence.

The LGA argues that the most serious cases which councils decide to take to a magistrates’ court, should lead to fines that at least match the highest level of a civil penalty.

At present, some private housing licensing schemes have proved successful. Salford City Council became the first in Britain to introduce a landlord licensing scheme 10 years ago, seeing a total of 93 landlords and seven managing agents prosecuted for offences.

Martin Tett, LGA Housing spokesman, said: “Councils want to work with landlords, not against them. But with more young people and families renting privately than ever before, we need to see reforms that will maintain and improve housing standards. A key deterrent to rogue landlords would be for the government to set common sentencing guidelines which delivers consistency across the courts. It is not right that the level of civil penalty could outweigh that which is handed out by magistrates.

“Many councils are already tackling issues in the private rental sector by bringing in landlord licensing schemes. But they are limited in how widely these can be introduced. We need to see these rules relaxed and councils given more freedom and flexibility in establishing schemes. Landlord licensing schemes allow landlords to demonstrate that they are responsible and adhere to ensuring homes are maintained to a high standard. It also protects and provides reassurance to tenants that they are living in a decent, safe and secure home.”