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Guildford rogue landlords risk fines of up to £30,000

3 minute read
Guildford rogue landlords risk fines of up to £30,000

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Rebecca Curley at 7:00am 13th January 2020. (Updated at 10:38am 13th January 2020)

Rogue landlords who fail to improve the state of rented homes in Guildford could face fines of up to £30,000 under new powers adopted by council officers. 

The financial penalties will be issued to owners who rent out rooms and houses that are unsafe or not compliant with housing standards.

The enforcement will be an alternative to prosecution which can be costly and delayed and will allow regulatory officers at Guildford Borough Council (GBC) to monitor the private-rented market in the borough. 

Data from the 2011 Census shows there were 9,000 properties in the private rented sector in Guildford. 

Since 2018 over 600 properties have been classed as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in the borough with five or more people living in them. 

Although they provide cheaper rates of accommodation for young professionals, single people and students, HMOs have been found to have some of the worst housing conditions, councillors were told. 

Any landlord renting their house out as an HMO to five or more tenants from two or more households must obtain a license from the council. 

But there are still a number of unlicensed properties being rented out in the borough, councillors were told at GBC’s Executive meeting on Tuesday, January 7. 

The civil penalty notices (CPN) charging ranges in fines from £1,000 to £30,000 depending on the severity and circumstances around the offence. 

Speaking at the meeting on Tuesday when the new enforcement powers were agreed councillor Angela Goodwin said the fines will ensure tenants are safe as the offences put residents at “unacceptable risk:"

“Many of our landlords comply with the law and are good landlords and any landlords will be given an opportunity to comply with the law before a CPN is issued.”

Councillor James Steel, who covers the Westborough ward, said most of his casework is related to HMOs and private sector landlords:

“It does help that this will ensure a lot of issues get tackled. A lot of tenants of HMO and private rented houses will only stay for a short amount of time so landlords can just wait out a tenant leaving before actually getting to prosecution stage.

“Whereas if they get fined on the spot they are more likely to actually act on any issues that take place in the household.”