Rogue landlords in Brighton and Hove face fines of up to £30k

Rogue landlords face being fined by the council if they fail to keep the properties that they rent out safe, secure and warm.

Officials already handle hundreds of complaints about private rented properties every year although the vast majority of cases are resolved informally.

The 645 cases in the year to March look like being exceeded this year, with the running total in the seven months since the start of April having topped 500.

Now, new rules make it easier for officials to crack down on rogue landlords without having to resort to the courts in serious cases.

The new regime will be adopted by Brighton and Hove City Council if the Housing Committee approves an enforcement policy next Wednesday (13 November).

A report to the committee said: “A lot of work is carried out with landlords to try to avoid formal enforcement action.

“The purpose of this policy is for those few cases where a more formal approach is required to ensure properties are safe and well managed.

“Fees, charges and fines will be imposed where landlords fail to comply with requests and these are calculated to cover reasonable expenses incurred.

“In addition, civil penalties will also be considered, which are an alternative to prosecution for certain housing offences under the Housing Act 2004, and the maximum penalty is £30,000.”

Brighton and Hove has a higher than average proportion of privately rented homes, with shared houses – formally known as houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) – making up more than 30 per cent of local housing stock.

The council said that a small minority of landlords did not keep their buildings to a good standard.

The report said: “Our aims for compliance are to provide assistance, information and education, working with landlords, lettings and management companies, tenants and owners of long-term or nuisance empty properties and other interested parties to help them comply with regulatory requirements and laws.

“If such requirements are not met, we will target enforcement action using a risk-based approach and relevant intelligence to make sure that we prioritise the most urgent cases.”

The council aims to take action to keep rented flats and houses free from hazards, prevent empty properties from becoming an eyesore and ensuring that licences were obtained where required.

The report said: “Empty homes can be a blight on our community as well as a wasted housing resource.

“Our approach will be to work alongside owners of empty homes with a solution-based approach to support and encourage voluntary action.

“However, we are also committed to using appropriate enforcement action where owners fail to take responsibility for their properties, reasonable negotiations fail or there is little prospect of the property being bought back into use voluntarily.”

The Housing Committee is due to meet at Hove Town Hall on Wednesday (13 November). The meeting is scheduled to start at 4pm and should be open to the public.

  1. Hovelassies Reply

    The council short start with inspecting all the premises it rents from such landlords – private temporary, emergency, accommodation hostels are paid profligate, eyewatering sums for slum accommodation that falls far short of any acceptable standard a local authority would be allowed to provide themselves. Soiled, chipped, shabby, cold, damp, slums for which the council spends millions of pounds based on no contracts and troubling cosy, opaque relationships with special private landlords. BHCC needs to look at the landlords whose pockets they line for providing slum accommodation before going after others. What a racket – should be investigated.

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