TWO landlords in Cambridge have been fined for health and safety breaches in their privately rented properties.
Following an investigation by Cambridge City Council, a local landlord was served with a financial penalty notice of £8951.60 after a property in multiple occupation (HMO) on Garlic Row was found to be unlicensed and to have unsatisfactory fire precautions.
In a separate investigation by the council, a financial penalty notice totalling £5893 was issued to another landlord of a two storey HMO on Sedgwick Street, for failing to comply with HMO management regulations, in particular: failing to provide information to the occupier, inadequate fire precautions, failure to maintain gas supply, overcrowding and failure to maintain communal areas.
The council used new enforcement powers, introduced under the amended Housing Act 2004, to issue the civil penalties as an alternative to prosecution.
In addition to serving the penalty notices, the council ensured that the deficiencies leading to the offences were remedied within both properties and that the necessary mandatory HMO licence was applied for.
One fine has been settled in full and the other is in the process of being recovered from the landlord.
Where a landlord or property manager receives a civil penalty, it can be taken into account when considering whether they are ‘fit and proper’ to be the licence holder for an HMO.
Where a landlord or property manager receives two or more civil penalties over a 12 month period, the council may include their details in the national database of rogue landlords and property agents.
Income received from civil penalties can be retained by the council provided that it is used to further their statutory functions in relation to their enforcement activities covering the private rented sector.
The council is now developing plans to use the penalty income received to date for investigation work in relation to housing enforcement issues, including working to identify those landlords and property managers who have not come forward to licence HMOs where necessary.
Further information regarding these financial civil penalties, as well as licensing of HMOs can be found on the council website at www.cambridge.gov.uk/private-rented-accommodation.
Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “The majority of landlords within the city provide a good standard of accommodation; however Cambridge City Council is committed to tackling the minority of landlords who put their tenants’ health and safety at risk by failing to comply with housing regulations.
“The new legal power to issue civil penalties is an important tool and will be used alongside the existing powers to take formal legal action when necessary.
“The enforcement action taken by our Environmental Health service will set an example to landlords who fail to licence their properties and provide unsafe accommodation in Cambridge.”
If you wish to discuss or report concerns relating to an HMO, please contact Cambridge City Council’s Residential Team 01223 458050 firstname.lastname@example.org