Barking & Dagenham landlords ordered to pay over £250,000 in civil penalties
Fines totalling more than a quarter of a million pounds were issued to private landlords in Barking and Dagenham last year.
Offences included failing to have a licence, ignoring enforcement notices, and operating illegal houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
Barking & Dagenham Council operates borough wide mandatory HMO and selective licensing schemes. According to the council, there have been around 15,000 licence applications since the selective licensing scheme was renewed in 2019. The council estimate that around a quarter of all homes in Barking and Dagenham are privately rented.
The council recognise there are still landlords who choose to flaunt the rules, including one instance where council enforcement officers received a tip off about an unlicensed overcrowded property.
At an address on Mayfair Avenue, inspectors found 13 people living in a four-bedroom house.
Councillor Margaret Mullane, Cabinet Member for Enforcement and Community Safety, said:
“We know the majority of landlords in our borough understand their responsibilities – both legally and morally – to their tenants and provide much needed homes that are safe to live in.
“However, there are unfortunately some unsavoury landlords who choose to flout the rules, and that is where we will use all the legal powers available to us to take action to improve living conditions for our residents.“
Under the Housing and Planning Act 2016, councils can pursue civil penalties instead of taking matters to the court.
Landlords whose properties fail to meet a required standard are issued an enforcement notice, which gives them a set time period to carry out any remedial work.
However, if they ignore the notice, they can be issued a civil penalty of up to £30,000. Similar penalties can be issued of a property does not have the correct licence, or if multi-occupied properties are not properly managed.
Last year, the council issued 117 civil penalty notices to the tune of £271,310. They also issued 89 enforcement notices, with landlords charged of £46,000 to cover the cost of serving them.
Cllr Mullane added:
“Our pioneering licensing scheme has helped drive up the standards of private rental properties in our borough, but as some of these hefty fines show, we won’t hesitate to take action against the few who continue to put profit ahead of people and leave residents living in dangerous, poorly maintained homes.“
A total of 14 joint operations were carried out with the Met Police, including one where the property was been used as a brothel and found to be operating an illegal HMO property on Reede Road. The landlord in that particular case is being prosecuted.
The council also investigated 99 cases of illegal eviction and handled 122 cases of landlord harassment over the past year – a significant rise on the year before the coronavirus pandemic.
A free guide explaining the property licensing and HMO planning restrictions in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham is available here.
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