Rogue landlords in Ashford will now face fines of up to £30,000 after Ashford Borough Council voted to adopt new rules designed to improve safety for private renters by ensuring that buy-to-let landlords are meeting their legal responsibilities.
The civil penalties for the worst offenders will be used as an alternative to criminal prosecutions and are seen as a quicker way to deal with serious housing offences.
This comes as part of the government’s campaign to clamp down on criminal landlords, with local councils now given the option to decide whether to prosecute or issue a penalty.
Ashford Borough Council's Cabinet agreed to adopt the new enforcement powers which will now be used to deal with rogue landlords who break the rules. The council will be able to retain all of the income to make sure it is used for private sector housing enforcement purposes.
Fines could be imposed where landlords fail to comply with improvement notices, commit offences in relation to the licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation, continue to contravene an overcrowding notice, and breaches of banning orders, which prohibit landlords and agents from letting or managing residential properties.
In setting the level of penalty, the council will follow government guidance covering the severity of the offence, the culpability and track record of the offender, the harm or potential harm caused to the tenant, and distress caused.
Cllr Gerald White, portfolio holder for housing, said: “I'm supportive of the proposed implementation of the civil penalty policy to allow the council to consider imposing fines on landlords who fail to comply with housing law, as an alternative to prosecution.
“Implementing the policy will hopefully deter landlords from failing in their responsibilities in providing safe homes and ensuring that they comply with the relevant housing law.”