A local newspaper’s investigation has revealed that a London council flouted its own policies to maximise the number of landlords it could fine.
A Freedom of Information request from the Ilford Recorder has found that Redbridge Council “secretly and informally” flouted its own policy over fining landlords.
Testimony from a senior officer in a 2019 court case reveals the council’s policy to try to resolve issues with landlords “informally” before issuing a fine was ignored “for a few weeks” that year.
Meanwhile the council increased enforcement against landlords and managing agents in 2019, issuing 100 fines in the first six months of that year.
Redbridge Council has yet to confirm how many other fines were issued without following policy, and whether they were cancelled or reviewed in light of the legal precedent.
The newspaper this week reports: “In a ruling on July 4, 2019, tribunal judge Peter Korn decided the council disobeying its own policy was enough reason to overturn a £5,000 fine issued to a managing agent in that period.
"Redbridge Council has yet to confirm how many other fines were issued without following policy, and whether they were cancelled or reviewed in light of the legal precedent.”
The new article looks in particular at a £5,000 fine issued to the property agent for an Ilford flat located inside the council’s selective licensing scheme, because it was found to be unlicensed.
It transpired that the judge was concerned that this particular fine was issued, without the proper process having been followed, when the fact was that this was actually about the agent simply helping his mother to manage a property.
A spokesperson for Redbridge Council told Landlord Today last evening: "Redbridge's property licensing scheme requires all private landlords within designated wards to obtain a licence to privately rent their property. The scheme helps the council to protect the health and safety of private renters and improve the quality of privately rented homes in the borough.
"Although disappointed with the outcome of the tribunal, we accept its findings. We are committed to working alongside landlords in the borough and our officers always make every effort to resolve issues of non-compliance before resorting to formal enforcement action."
Back in June 2019 the Ilford Recorder carried a story saying that Redbridge Council had recently issued 150 fines to landlords, with the authority saying it had a zero tolerance policy towards illegal activity in the private rental sector.
You can read this week’s well-researched Ilford Recorder piece in full here.
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