A local council has announced plans to introduce fixed penalty notices as a means of punishing rogue landlords and letting agents operating in the city of York.
York Council believes that the notices will help it to tackle agents and landlords who are discovered to be flouting the law deliberately.
The authority wants to fine any letting agent without valid redress scheme membership. If agents are not enrolled with one of the trio of Government-approved schemes, they will face a fine, as will those who fail to disclose details of their fees and thus breach the legislation that was introduced in May.
York council has also announced that landlords should be prepared for a fine if they fail to install working smoke detectors on each storey of all rental properties or fail to fit alarms to detect carbon monoxide in all rooms that house an appliance classed as being solid fuel-burning.
The authority’s Executive Member will be responsible for enforcing the law and for setting the fines for agents and landlords failing to comply with regulations. The current recommendation is that the maximum penalty should be set at £5,000 for each case of non-compliance. Delegated power would allow the council’s Housing Services Manager to lower fines in the case of extenuating circumstances.
York’s Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods, Councillor David Carr, said that the council recognised good practice from many letting agents in the area but needed to ensure that those failing to provide the required service were penalised.
He added that York’s private rental sector had grown considerably and included some of the city’s ‘most vulnerable households’ who need to be protected in order to ensure that they receive ‘a fair deal’.
In October 2014 it became a legislative requirement that every letting agent must become a member of a recognised redress scheme. However, there have subsequently been concerns raised by both individuals and organisations who are concerned that the regulations are not being adequately monitored or enforced.
Television channel LondonLive said in November that there were a number of authorities in the London area who were failing to enforce the rules surrounding redress schemes and north east-based KIS Letting’s Ajay Jagota has been vocal in his concerns that the five authorities in his local area had not made any prosecutions.
Just last month in Yorkshire, however, Sheffield Council announced that 11 agencies had been fined to the tune of £37,000 in total as a result of failing to join appropriate redress schemes.