Friday, 18 April 2014

Council crackdown on failing landlords

Private landlords who fail to take action against anti-social tenants or who rent out substandard housing could be ‘struck off’ by North Ayrshire Council.

The local authority’s Licensing Committee is responsible for overseeing the registration of landlords and has powers to ensure there are serious consequences for any who are deemed to be not ‘fit and proper’ persons to perform the role. For example, the Committee can refuse an application from a prospective landlord or can remove those already on the register. In addition, a Rent Penalty Notice can be served against a landlord, which means no rent can be charged for a particular property and any tenant will not receive Housing Benefit from the Council.

Cllr Tom Marshall, Depute Chair of the Licensing Committee, explained, “Anti-social behaviour can be extremely stressful for neighbours, whether it involves loud music being played in the middle of the night, people visiting at night or disposing of waste in common grounds, such as closes and shared gardens.”

Leasing substandard housing and failing to carry out essential repairs can also result in action.

In order to legally operate as a landlord, a property owner must be officially registered with the Council. The Register also allows tenants and neighbours to identify the property owner and contact them where necessary.

The Licensing Committee has vowed to crackdown on issues where there is clear evidence to back complaints. Cllr Marshall said, “Tenants are clearly responsible for their own behaviour. However, there is also an onus on landlords to take action where necessary.

“The Council has a number of options when it comes to enforcing legislation and is committed to making use of these where appropriate.”

In 2012 Ardrossan Independent councillor John Hunter initiated an investigation by North Ayrshire Council’s Scrutiny Committee, which looked at the impact on the local area of unregistered landlords and owners of private residential properties.

The investigation involved carrying out a data-matching exercise, which looked at licensing records and benefits claims, revealing around 3,000 unregistered rented properties in the local area.

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