Weston-super-Mare's rogue landlords face hefty fines for 'hazardous' living standards
PUBLISHED: 07:00 11 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:55 11 June 2018
Rogue landlords face being fined up to £30,000 for allowing tenants to live in 'seriously hazardous' properties after a 'ground-breaking' scheme was passed to improve rented accommodation in Weston-super-Mare.
Landlords who do not adhere to North Somerset Council’s standards for homes of multiple occupancy (HMO) could face hefty fines for failing their tenants.
Thousands of rented properties within the centre of Weston are believed to have ‘serious hazards’ and the council hopes new regulations will improve standards – although critics are far from convinced.
On Tuesday, the council’s Rogue Landlords Enforcement Scheme, which will include a tenant helpline for reporting issues anonymously, was agreed.
Cllr Richard Nightingale has helped lead the campaign to secure better living conditions for tenants in his ward and said the creation of the helpline and the enforcement is ‘truly ground-breaking’.
He added: “These proposals will offer a major leap forward in addressing some of the poor standards of accommodation in central Weston.”
A review of Central ward found there were 4,500 rented properties, 71 per cent of which were described by the authority as being ‘non-decent’ and 45 per cent had ‘serious hazards’.
Landlords will be subject to mandatory housing inspections from January, unless they are registered to an accredited scheme.
Routine inspections will take between 10-15 minutes if, but if problems arise then charges will ensue.
The scheme has been criticised by housing union ACORN Weston, which believes a mandatory licensing scheme is the only way to oust rogue landlords. Cllr Nightingale said: “Some landlords are professional but we need the ability to tackle those who are not.
“These potentially heavy fines, along with a new anonymous rogue landlord reporting phone line, will be a serious deterrent to offering sub-standard property to tenants.”
Executive council member for housing, Elfan Ap Rees, announced the scheme back in April, saying ‘no-one should be paying to live in damp, cold accommodation which lacks basic facilities’.
He added: “We know many landlords provide privately rented housing of a very high quality, however some landlords do very little to maintain and improve their properties, which contribute to tenants living in extremely poor conditions.”