Sheffield Council has promised to continue targeting rogue landlords after bringing its highest-ever number of successful prosecutions.
Seven individuals and companies were sentenced for various housing offences by the city’s courts in November, raising thousands of pounds in fines, the latest figures reveal.
Among some of the recent offences were failure to licence properties, breaching regulations for houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) and unlawful evictions. Several landlords have been deemed ‘not fit and proper’, and were not granted a licence by the council as a result.
Other offences of which landlords were found guilty included failures to supply gas safety certificates, fire alarms and fire escape signs, failure to ensure common areas were maintained, and failure to install adequate fire doors.
Heading the campaign against rogue landlords at Sheffield Council is service manager for private housing Michelle Houston.
Seemingly oblivious to the risks that landlords take when renting to rogue tenants, she told the press that it was important to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords.
“One of the things that we do want to get across is that private rented tenants have the right to live in a safe and well-maintained house,” she said.
“Sometimes they think ‘What can you expect? A private landlord doesn’t have to do repairs’ – but they do.
“We want to get that message across to tenants so we can then get it across to landlords.
“Often tenants have quite low expectations.”
Houston, who claims that the council has had to deal with issues where landlords are bullying tenants and letting themselves in to the rental property at any time of night, insists that the vast majority of landlords – more than 90% – are fine; “They might not be gold star, but they are safe and the landlords do what they are supposed to do”.
“We don’t want every private rented property to be gold star because we don’t want everything to be top of the scale. We are very happy to have a basic but safe private rented property. But sometimes we go out and it’s multiple problems,” she added.