Crackdown on rogue landlords across Fenland as Housing Enforcement Policy set to go to cabinet

Paul Shamplina says a visit to March with Channel 5’s Nightmare Tenants Slum Landlords uncovered “th

Paul Shamplina says a visit to March with Channel 5’s Nightmare Tenants Slum Landlords uncovered “the worst living conditions I had ever seen in my 27 years in this business”. PHOTO: Channel 5 - Credit: Archant

A policy to crackdown on rogue landlords across Fenland which could see fines of up to £30,000 imposed is set to be backed by council bosses this week.

The Housing Enforcement Policy would mean Fenland District Council could take a more proactive approach to dealing with landlords whose properties are not up to scratch.

Housing officers would get new powers including the introduction of civil penalties of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution.

This would be for offences such as failing to comply with improvement notices and overcrowding.

“In making the decision to prosecute we will have regard to how serious the offence is, the benefit of prosecution and whether some other action would be better,” officials say.

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However, consultation responses said that the policy would make it more “difficult” for landlords.

One response said: “Enforcement officers believe they are above everyone else, they must be clear to people when they are going to take legal action.

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“Don’t make it any more difficult for landlords.

“Policies, red tape, licenses, bureaucracy make it more difficult. This leads to shortage of housing, higher rents, overcrowding.”

The council responded: “The policy essentially collates the powers and duties that the council has responsibility for in relation to house condition enforcement. It was felt important by the Member Working Task Group that for openness, transparency and awareness the council should do this.”

The powers would also be used to prevent housing with poor energy efficiency ratings being rented out as well as the requirement to improve safety through the installation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Failure to comply could result in fines of up to £5,000.

The report, which is set to go to cabinet this Thursday July 19, states that letters were sent to around 216 landlords earlier this year.

The policy will also enforce the use of rent repayment orders for certain housing offences.

These orders can require a landlord to repay rent back to the tenant or, in the case of rent through benefits, to the local authority.

The council’s cabinet approved the draft policy for consultation at its meeting on April 19.

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