New tougher powers against bad landlords

 

Rogue landlords could face banning orders, maximum £30,000 fines and even prison under new powers being adopted next week by Croydon Council.

The council already has a licensing scheme to raise housing standards in the borough and tackle rogue landlords, but from next week it will adopt powers to further protect private tenants in bad-quality rented properties and reduce the need for costly prosecutions.

From 8 May new powers will be available under the 2016 Housing and Planning Act allowing Croydon Council to:

• Fine landlords up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution
• Get a court order so the worst offenders pay back up to a year’s rent
• Fine landlords up to £5,000 for breaking fire safety regulations

From October, these powers will extend to include:

• Banning orders so prosecuted offenders cannot be landlords again
• Recouping up to £25,000 in rent from landlords breaking a banning order
• Up to 51 weeks in prison for landlords breaking a banning order

Council officers will be able to issue the £30,000 fines and apply to magistrates for rent repayment orders once leader Councillor Tony Newman has approved Croydon’s own process for determining the level of fines depending on each case. Councillor Newman will take this decision on Tuesday 2 May instead of cabinet, which is not meeting in May because of the General Election.

If this process is approved next week, the new powers will cover private properties in Croydon rented by a single person or family and shared flats or houses, known as homes in multiple occupation (HMO).

The council’s selective licensing scheme, introduced in October 2015, already has the power to fine or prosecute landlords who either run unlicensed private properties or break their licence conditions by renting out dangerous or poor-quality housing. Most Croydon Council cases are resolved without the need for prosecution because landlords follow improvement notices bringing faster results.

Landlords at risk of fines, prosecution or banning orders include those breaking the conditions of their Croydon Council selective licence or HMO licence, running overcrowded properties or those who do not comply with an improvement notice.

The new powers come weeks after Croydon Council successfully prosecuted a private landlord for renting out a house share that became a neglected fire hazard.

“Croydon Council’s landlord licensing scheme is already driving up housing standards in the borough, and these changes will give us even more powers to tackle rogue landlords.

“We’ll continue to prosecute bad landlords where necessary, but these new powers offer us wider enforcement options that protect tenants faster and reduce the cost to Croydon taxpayers.”

Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning

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