Council to get tough on "rogue" landlords

Burnley Town Hall
Burnley Town Hall

New enforcement powers to help tackle “rogue” property landlords are set to be introduced by Burnley Council.

Recent national Government legislation, which includes the use of civil penalty notices of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution, is set to become council policy if its Executive agrees a number of recommendations.

Coun. John Harbour, the Executive member for housing and environment, said: “The council is always willing to work with private landlords and support them in providing good quality and well managed properties for residents, and I’m pleased to say the majority of private landlords in our borough are professional and follow the rules.

“However there are a number of landlords who don’t follow the rules and don’t look after their tenants properly. The use of these new powers will support the ongoing work that the council carries out to tackle these so-called rogue landlords.

“The civil penalties, and the use of rent repayment orders, could be a powerful deterrent to rogue behaviour through the enforcement of significant financial penalties.”

The national legislation introduced civil penalties of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution for certain offences, including failure to comply with an improvement notice, offences of contravention of an overcrowding notice, and offences in relation to licensing of properties.

A report to the executive pointed out that although £30,000 is the maximum penalty, the actual amount levied should reflect the severity of the offence and the landlord’s previous record of offending.

The new policy will also extend the council’s powers to use rent repayment orders, which are currently applied in cases where a landlord has failed to obtain a licence for their premises under selective licensing, but will, in future, apply to a wider range of other offences including failure to comply with an improvement notice. This new power will mean that landlords may have to repay rent to the local authority for a period of up to 12 months.

The Executive is recommended to approve the council’s policy for the use of civil penalties and rent repayment orders when it meets on July 4th.