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Council cracks down on rogue landlords with harsh housing penalties

Nottingham City Council has announced it will use a new set of legal powers aimed at stamping out rogue landlords and agents in the area.

Changes made to the Housing and Planning Act 2016 have allowed the council to issue Civil Penalty notices up to a maximum fine of £30,000 – which will hit dishonest landlords hard by taking away their ill-gotten revenue.

The new penalties do not require a court hearing to pass, meaning that the council is able to take swift and effective action far more quickly.

Nottingham City has even said that it will use the Civil Penalties as an alternative to lengthy, costly prosecutions for a range of housing offences, including failure to comply with housing improvement or overcrowding notices and not having the right license for a property.

“Good landlords and letting agents have nothing to fear from these changes to the law,” said Cllr Toby Neal, the city council’s portfolio holder for community and customer services. “The city council will now be able to tackle poor housing conditions in private rented housing more easily. 

“The Civil Penalties process has a straightforward set of steps that allow landlords to make the required changes before fines are issued.”

The council will also enforce another set of housing law changes alongside the Civil Penalties, which will allow Nottingham City Council and tenants to apply for a Rent Repayment Order (RRO) to claim back up to 12 months’ rent.

Previously, RROs were only an option for getting money back when landlords had failed to license a property requiring a license, whilst tenants could only apply where the landlord had been prosecuted for the offence or when the council had successfully applied for an RRO.

Now, RRO applications can be made for a wide swathe of offences such as illegal eviction or harassment of people living in the property, as well as using violence to secure entry and failing to comply with a housing improvement notice or prohibition order.

The council can also apply for an RRO to recover any rent paid by Housing Benefit or Universal Credit to landlords and letting agents, whilst tenants can submit an RRO application if they have paid the rent themselves.

“Taking the Civil Penalties together with changes made to the RRO scheme, it means that the council can take away the financial rewards gained by landlords and letting agents by putting substandard, dangerous or unacceptable private rented properties onto the market,” Cllr Neal continued.

“For the city council, these legal changes will provide additional resources to continue making sure that the city’s 36,000 private rented properties are fit for purpose.

“The council’s use of these new powers along with our plans to introduce a new licensing scheme underline our commitment to ensuring people in Nottingham have access to decent quality private rented housing.”

Any money taken from landlords and agents can be legally kept by the local authority and put back into housing enforcement action.

Top Image: okeyphotos

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