PRIVATE landlords who breach legislation and provide substandard accommodation for tenants could be hit by new civil penalties of up to £30,000.
Following changes to the law, Cambridge City Council will be given new powers to impose financial penalties against rogue landlords rather than prosecute them when they suspect an offence has been committed.
Offences that could now lead to a financial penalty for landlords include:
- Failure to comply with an improvement notice issued by the council – for example instructing a landlord to carry out remedial work to reduce the likelihood of harm to an occupier or visitor from a particular hazard;
- Failure to license houses in multiple occupation (HMO) or failing to comply with licence conditions;
- Contravening an overcrowding notice issued by the council when more individuals than the permitted number are occupying a habitable room or rooms within an HMO;
- Not complying with management regulations for HMOs.
Financial penalties will be calculated on a case by case basis by the council using its own matrix system to rate the severity of the offences committed by the landlord and their culpability.
The same standard of proof will be required for the council to impose a financial penalty as it would be if a case were to be prosecuted at the magistrates’ court.
If a landlord was given two financial penalties under this legislation in any 12 month period in any location, the council could enter their name in a national database of rogue landlords when this is made available for use by local authorities.
Cllr Kevin Price, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “By having the power to impose fines on rogue landlords we will be able to deal with cases more quickly, deter landlords and help drive up standards across the private sector.
“The vast majority of landlords provide a good service to their tenants, but these new powers will help us to ensure anyone renting in Cambridge gets the safe home that they deserve.”
The charging levels and the matrix system for the enforcement of the new financial penalties are set to be discussed at Housing Scrutiny Committee on 21 September. Subject to approval, the council would be able to start imposing these financial penalties from November this year.