There may be plenty of talk about the lack of enforcement by local authorities but barely a day goes by at the moment when there isn’t a story about the prosecution of a rogue landlord on the pages of the local or national press.
The case of Wirral landlord John Kieran was highlighted when magistrates ordered him to pay £1,350 after he was prosecuted over serious safety issues and health hazards at his rented house. The issues were deemed to be amongst the worst ever seen by housing officers.
It was found that the property in Birkenhead’s Argyle Street lacked any fire precaution measures and tenants were at risk from exposed live wiring and what was considered to be dangerous wiring overall.
There was also a serious damp problem at the property with mould growing inside and the kitchen and bathroom facilities were deemed poor. Additionally, tenants were forced to live with boarded up windows at the house.
The problems were discovered when housing officers visited to carry out an inspection and it was said to be amongst the ‘worst cases’ encountered of sub-standard housing conditions.
The landlord, of Higher Bebington’s Village Road, pleaded guilty to the offence of not implementing satisfactory management standards as directed by the Housing Act 2004.
He told the court that the property is currently empty and would not be rented out again until the house had been fully refurbished.
Despite the fine imposed, however, the local council has expressed its disappointment at the outcome of the case.
Housing and community safety cabinet member Councillor George Davies said that he felt that the fine did not adequately reflect the kind of ‘appalling conditions’ that the ‘vulnerable’ tenants had found themselves living amongst.
He added, however, that he was still hopeful that the prosecution would help to deter rogue landlords from renting out unsuitable properties.
Meanwhile, in Southampton, the local authority has extended its HMO licensing scheme to more areas in the city in a bid to prompt greater widespread improvement of standards within the private rented sector.
The scheme, which requires that landlords renting out houses of multiple occupation hold a license, was introduced in 2013 to cover the areas of Swaythling, Portswood, Bevois, and Bargate. It has now been extended to take in the areas of Shirley, Millbrook, Freemantle, and Bassett.