Stafford Borough Council chiefs are set to receive a green light to introduce civil penalties as a way to punish rogue landlords more quickly.
A cabinet meeting last Thursday brought to light plans to introduce civil penalties for rogue landlords as a way to avoid the overly long court system process. The fines would range from £1,000 to £30,000. They would be issued for a variety of offences, ranging from properties with excess damp and mould, electrical hazards, or those which are deemed substandard for any reason.
Stafford Borough Council’s community portfolio holder, Councillor Jeremy Pert, said: ‘The overwhelming majority of landlords in the Borough provide a high standard of accommodation and have an excellent relationship with the Council and their tenants. However, there are a very small number that fail to engage with the Council and knowingly rent unsafe and substandard accommodation. In light of the generally high standard of both accommodation and landlords in the Borough it is anticipated this power will be rarely used, however, it will ensure officers have all the necessary legislative tools at their disposal to protect the health, safety and welfare of tenants in the private rented sector.’
The decision comes following a case last year which involved a Stafford landlord being found guilty of a range of charges, including the failure to fit a suitable fire detection system in his rental property. The home was also in poor standard, and the landlord had not obtained the correct license from the borough council. The landlord in question was fined £14,000. However, under the proposal to allow the council to distribute civil penalties, the fine could be more than doubled.
Pert continued: ‘The introduction of financial penalty charge notices as an additional enforcement measure allows authorised officers to choose the best course of action in regards to the behaviour and actions of non-compliant landlords. The Government’s position is clear in requiring Local Authorities to be robust in their enforcement approach.’