Landlord heavily fined for unsafe property

A landlord who rented a property with numerous safety hazards including faulty wiring and rotting windows has been fined over £6,000, in the first case of its kind in Peterborough.

Housing enforcement officers from Peterborough City Council’s Prevention and Enforcement Service inspected the house in Dogsthorpe Road as part of an initiative to target rented properties operating without a licence.

Since September 2016 the council has run its Selective Licensing Policy in designated areas, ensuring anyone who privately rents a property obtains a licence to guarantee the accommodation is of good standard.

When the house was inspected, officers found it was rented to a family of six and in very poor condition.

There were 15 safety hazards, six of which were classified as being category one hazards that posed an imminent and serious risk to the safety of the tenants.

These included window frames that had rotted to the extent that the glass was in danger of falling out, wiring hanging loose from overhead lights and poorly-fitted plug sockets that were falling apart.

The danger was so severe, officers had no option but to carry out emergency repairs due to the risk of an electrical fire.

The landlord failed to respond to concerns over the remaining hazards, so the council issued statutory improvement notices requiring these repairs to be completed by July 2018.

Any landlord who fails to comply with an improvement notice is committing a criminal offence and when officers visited the house at the end of July they found that none of the repairs had been carried out.

Since the introduction of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, local authorities are able to issue civil penalties of up to £30,000 as an alternative to taking prosecution action where certain housing offences have been committed.

The civil penalty amount is calculated by taking into account the level of harm caused by the offence, the offender’s track record and the income the offender received as a result of the offence.

In this case, the landlord was issued with a civil penalty of £6,725, the first such penalty issued by Peterborough City Council.

Councillor Peter Hiller, Peterborough City Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Our Selective Licensing policy has successfully improved property standards and we are proud of the work that our housing team and local landlords have done to help achieve this.

“Unfortunately there are still a minority of landlords who think they are above the law and whenever we obtain evidence of this, we will look to take action using the broad range of powers available to us.”

Gareth Brighton, senior prevention and enforcement officer, who investigated the case on behalf of the council, said: “This case demonstrates our zero tolerance stance towards landlords and letting agents who fail to meet their legal obligations. Such cases seriously impact on the everyday lives of those who have to live in such appalling and dangerous conditions.

“Our team continues to work with landlords and agents to ensure that their properties meet current housing standards and to support and educate those who may need guidance on best practice in property management.”

Further information can be found on the private sector housing standards page.

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