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A landlord from Burnley has received a fine of £56,000 for breaching the selective licensing scheme rules set in place by Burnley Council. David Paul Vallender, the landlord, did not apply for the appropriate licenses for the four properties he owns and rents out in Bruce Street, Dickson Street, Athol Street North and Ada Street – all located in Burnley and covered by Burnley Council’s selective licensing scheme.

The council successfully brought a prosecution against the landlord using regulation implemented by the Government to aid the fight against rogue landlords. Burnley magistrates enforced fines of £12,500 for each home owned by Mr Vallender, with additional fines of £1,100 for court costs, and £5,000 in victim surcharges. The landlord, who failed to attend the hearing in court, was found guilty. The victim surcharge and fines will be transferred to central government, while the costs will end up with the council in an effort to cover the cost of taking legal action against Mr Vallender.

The court was informed that the landlord had requested exemption forms relating to three of the rental properties in August 2016, but he failed to advance any further in the process despite a number of requests from Burnley Council dating up to December 2017. Mr Vallender then promised that the required forms would be sent by February 2018, but these forms were never received by Burnley Council. The court was told that the landlord had attempted to avoid the requirements of selective licencing by creating leases of 21 years for his tenants. However, this ploy did not convince the court.

The executive member for leisure and housing, Councillor John Harbour, explained that the council will always willingly work alongside private landlords and provide support enabling them to provide well managed and good quality housing for residents. In Mr Vallender’s case, the council gave him every opportunity to meet the requirements, but he failed to deliver the information the council needed, despite repeated requests and meetings with officers. This is one of the largest fines ever given out by UK courts for a landlord failing to adequately licence their property, and demonstrates the importance to managing agents and landlords of working alongside authorities to improve the care of privately rented properties.

Under the 2004 Housing Act, councils in the UK were given powers to establish selective licensing schemes to tackle the specific problems of particular locales within their boroughs. The schemes are designed to be targeted measures to fight the most severe problems in rental housing which arise from poor management.

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