A private landlord in Burnley has been ordered to pay more than £56,000 under selective licensing powers introduced in the borough to help tackle “rogue” property owners.
Burnley Council brought a successful prosecution against David Paul Vallender for operating four properties in the borough without a proper licence.
Magistrates fined Vallender £12,500 for each property and ordered him to pay a further £5,000 victim surcharge and £1,100 in costs. He was found guilty in his absence.
The fines and surcharge will go to central government; the costs will go to the council to cover the cost of bringing the prosecution.
Burnley Magistrates' Court was told that Vallender had failed to properly licence the four properties in Athol Street North, Bruce Street, Ada Street and Dickson Street under the council’s selective licensing scheme.
The court heard that Vallender had asked for exemption forms for three of the properties in August 2016 but had failed to return completed forms to the council, despite several requests, by December 2017.
Vallender then said the forms would be sent to the council by February 2018 but no forms were ever received.
The court also heard that Vallender may have tried to avoid licensing by creating 21-year leases for his tenants. The leases were not accepted by the court as a lawful exemption to selective licensing.
Coun. John Harbour, the executive member for housing and leisure, said: “The council is always willing to work with private landlords and support them in providing good quality and well managed homes for residents.
“In this case the landlord was given every opportunity to work with us but failed to provide the information we needed, despite repeated requests and meetings with officers.
“This was one of the biggest fines ever handed out by the courts in this country for failing to properly licence properties. It shows the importance of landlords and managing agents working with us to improve the management of privately rented houses in our borough.”
The Housing Act 2004 made provision for local authorities to introduce selective licensing to deal with particular problems in the private rented sector. The schemes are highly targeted measures to tackle the most severe problems arising from poor management of properties.
The council is currently consulting the public and landlords on proposals to renew existing selective licensing schemes in the Trinity, Gannow and Queensgate/Duke Bar areas, and to introduce a new scheme in Daneshouse with Stoneyholme.