Council bosses back new powers to tackle rogue landlords

Landlord representative Colin Campbell
Landlord representative Colin Campbell

Rogue landlords could be fined up to £30,000 for failing to improve living conditions for tenants under new powers backed by council bosses.

South Tyneside Council’s cabinet have thrown their support behind a new ‘Civil Penalties Policy’.

The scheme aims to boost powers in the private rented sector and channel more cash back into housing enforcement in the borough.

Penalties are classed as an “enforcement option” for specific offences under the Housing Act (2004) and Housing and Planning Act (2016).

Under the policy, problem landlords could be slapped with fines between £600 – £30,000 for failings around management, licensing and overcrowding.

Cabinet member for housing and transport, Coun Mark Walsh, updated cabinet on the plans at South Shields Town Hall.

He told the meeting that several factors would decide the scale of the fine or penalty.

“They include the severity of the offence, the track record of the offender, the harm caused to the tenant and the removal of any financial benefit the offender may obtain as a result of committing the offence itself,” he said.

“The policy outlines the process to be followed before the fixed penalty notice is issued and the rights of appeal available.

“The policy will provide further enforcement options and powers to the officers within the council dealing with issues in the private rented sector.”

A report prepared for cabinet states the new fines will serve as a more “cost-effective and proportionate alternative” to prosecution.

But the option of prosecution will still remain for more serious offences.

Last week, chairman of the South Tyneside Landlords’ Association, Colin Campbell, welcomed the council crackdown.

Mr Campbell, who is an  independent candidate in next month’s elections, added that rogue landlords need to be “wiped out and taken away from the market.”

The cabinet decision also follows a new ‘enforced sale policy’,agreed in January, which aims to bring around 1,700 vacant properties back into use in the borough.

The ‘Civil Penalties Policy’ is now set to go full council before final approval.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service