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Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy consultation


Our present policy needs updating as the range of powers available to improve private housing have increased. This updated version will be considered by Cabinet for approval in December 2020, but prior to that, we’d like to hear your views, in particular if you are a landlord, managing agent or a tenant.

Contents

Why have an enforcement policy?

We are required to provide an enforcement policy, explaining how we will respond to non-compliance. Our policy will ensure consistency of approach so that businesses  know what to expect from us, and it provides clarity where we need to take enforcement action or legal proceedings.

Who does the policy apply to?

It applies to those responsible for property in all tenures particularly the private rented sector. It also applies to owner-occupiers, although enforcement action would only be taken in very rare circumstances. The collective term “businesses” is used throughout the policy, and includes landlords, owners, leaseholders, freeholders, managing and letting agents, property licence holders, and registered social landlords.

Role of Private Sector Housing team

Our role is to maintain and improve housing conditions in all property tenures in particular the private sector, by ensuring compliance with the legislative framework.

We actively work with businesses and the public to advise on and assist with compliance. In the majority of cases, businesses comply with informal advice and recommendations, however in some circumstances more formal approaches are needed, and the detail on how and when action may be taken is set out in the policy. General principles about proportionality of action will be followed, for example we will try informal approaches first before resorting to formal action.

Range of enforcement actions

The range of enforcement options is contained in legislation, from no action/informal advice through to proceedings in court. The types of action that can be considered are listed on page 9 of the policy.  As well as the service of statutory notices, work in default, prosecution, licensing of houses in multiple occupation, we now have some additional powers which include:

  1. civil penalty notices – used as an alternative to prosecution with a financial penalty of up to £30,000;
  2. monetary penalty (penalty charge) – this relates to two specific breaches:
    1. the requirement for a managing /letting agent to belong to a Redress Scheme (a body that looks into complaints made by a tenant) with a charge of up to £5,000 for non-compliance;
    2. the requirement for there to be smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in privately rented properties with a charge of up to £5,000 for non-compliance;
  3. financial penalty – can be applied if businesses do not have electrical installations in their properties inspected and tested every five years with a penalty of up to £30,000;
  4. banning orders – application to the First-tier Tribunal to request that a landlord or property agent is banned from letting housing and/or property management where they have been convicted of certain Housing Act and criminal offences.

Consultation

Pre-Cabinet consultation will take place during September, and please send your comments to privatesectorhousing@tunbridgewells.gov.uk by 30 September 2020.

The council will be having a new web site this month and throughout the policy you will see links to other council documents. These links will be in place once the new web site is up and running. In the meantime please contact us if you’d like to see any specific policies and we will send them to you.