Rental property owners in Norwich who put tenants at risk in their buy to let investments could soon face fines of up to £30,000 as the city council looks towards extending its powers to regulate the buy to let sector.
Officers from City Hall claim that the use of financial penalties will mean they will be able to take action against a higher number of rogue landlords, bringing ‘significant improvement’ to the condition of private rental properties in the area.
The new powers cover a range of issues, including the potential for fines of £5,000 to be imposed for the failure to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. There is even potential for landlords to be fined for failing to maintain the gardens of their rental properties.
Council officers have claimed that without these powers, the length and cost of legal procedures meant that they could only look towards prosecuting a small number of rogue landlords. This left swathes of the sector unregulated, especially with regard to minor offences. However, under new rules the fines will act as a deterrent for landlords as opposed to prosecution.
The fines will target investors who fail to comply with improvement notices, breach licensing requirements or fail to meet management regulations for homes where multiple rooms are rented out to different families.
All money raised will be kept by the council to be used for further enforcement. However, the primary agenda behind the fines is not to raise money but to encourage landlords to act conscientiously.
A spokesman for Norwich City Council said: ‘Government guidance has made it clear that the power to impose a financial penalty ‘should be used robustly as a way of clamping down on rogue landlords’ and that the purpose of allowing high penalties to be imposed is ‘because a smaller fine may not be significant enough for landlords who flout the law to think seriously about their behaviour and provide good quality, private sector rented accommodation for their tenants.’