Rogue landlords with properties in Scarborough now face fines of up to £30,000 as the local council looks to clampdown on those failing to take their legal responsibilities seriously.
Scarborough Borough Council has voted to adopt new powers to get tough on those who break the rules.
A Civil Penalty Policy was passed by the council this week, which means that civil penalties of up to £30,000 for the worst offending landlords will now be used as an alternative and quicker way to launching criminal prosecutions in cases of serious housing offences under the Housing Act.
Aside from civil penalties of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution for certain specified offences, the new powers also include an extension of Rent Repayment Orders so that they now cover illegal eviction, breach of a banning order, failure to comply with an Improvement Notice, and certain other specified offences.
There will also be a database of rogue landlords and agents who have been convicted of certain offences or received multiple civil penalties, with the option of banning orders for the most serious and prolific offenders.
Scarborough Borough Council’s cabinet member for housing, Cllr Bill Chatt, said: “Offences can include things like; we serve an improvement notice to a property because it's damp, cold, it's got a lot of issues going on and the landlord doesn't work with us in the timescale to work that through.
“So then we get to a point where we say it hasn't been improved, and then we can decide what fine to hand out based on the impact it has had on the tenant.
“The maximum fine is £30,000 but there is an appeals process in this. We still have to gather the evidence as if we're still going to court.
“The appeals process will now go to a panel who can decide that the civil penalty could be upheld or it could be turned down, but what we're saying to the landlords is that it's better to work with us than against us.”