A private landlord has been prosecuted and fined £10,000 for failing to get a licence for his rental property. Hastings Borough Council brought a successful prosecution against Philip Dempsey of Malden Road, Surrey, for failing to license his Bohemia Road property between October 2015 and June 2017, despite it being in a ward in the borough covered by the local authority’s selective licensing scheme. The landlord was found guilty in his absence at Hastings Magistrates’ Court and ordered to pay a £10,000 fine, with £432 costs and a £170 victim surcharge. Councillor Andy Batsford said the selective licensing scheme helps to promote good tenancy practice in the private rental sector. He said they can protect tenants by improving living conditions and standards of management by landlords.
In another case, Syed Masood Ahmed, the landlord of Sunny’s Inn in West End Road, Morecambe, had to pay costs of £10,752 for admitting 12 offences of fire safety breaches. The case came to light after a complaint was made to Lancashire County Council, whose investigators found a smoke detector in one bedroom covered by a plastic bag and a detector in another bedroom was covered by a sock, so any smoke from a fire would not be detected early on. As well as the costs, Ahmed was also sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment suspended for two years and 120 hours of unpaid work.
These cases shows how hefty the fines can be for landlords who fail to comply with regulations set up by local authorities. Hopefully, these regulations will continue to weed out rogue landlords who are operating outside the law.
Elsewhere, a police operation has led to about 200 people being arrested and 253 residential properties inspected in a clampdown on illegal immigrants. Operation Magnify was set up to crack down on illegal immigration and rogue landlords who are renting properties to people who are not legally permitted to live in the UK. During the operation, Border Force officers have arrested about 200 people who had either overstayed their visa or entered the UK illegally.
Minister of State for Immigration, Brandon Lewis, said taxpayers are cheated by illegal workers and illegal immigration allowed rogue employers to undercut legitimate companies. He said the expectations of the illegal immigrants is very different to the life they face and they often find themselves being exploited by rogue landlords or employers. The landlords flout the rules, as they see these immigrants as an easy target and an easy way to make money.
These court cases highlight the importance being attached to dealing with landlords, businesses and migrants trying to slip under the radar. At the same time, it also shows the need for legitimate landlords and companies to have evidence of all their transactions in case they are inspected. Each landlord should have a checklist in place to show that they have issued all the right documents and contracts to tenants, that all the necessary safety certificates are in place, that inspections are up-to-date, and that all rents are paid on time. There is specialist software that can be installed to keep all of this paperwork in one place and it also enables the entire team to have access to the files and update them.