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Cheshire landlords face £30k fine for poor fire standards

15 August 2017

CHESHIRE EAST Council’s housing enforcement policy is to be strengthened to ensure residents in rented accommodation get the best housing standards with the right fire protection in place.

Private landlords, including social housing landlords, face civil penalties of up to £30,000 following the introduction of the 2016 Housing and Planning Act, which came into force in April this year.

Landlords can also be ordered to make rent repayments if inspections reveal sub-standard housing conditions or failures in safety protection measures, including fire protection.

The new legislation requires local authorities to develop and document their own policy on when to apply sanctions, with each case determined on its merits. Civil penalties can be used as an alternative to prosecution for a number of offences under the 2004 Housing Act, including:

  • Failure to comply with an improvement notice for hazards such as excess cold, falls, domestic and personal hygiene and fire;
  • Offences relating to houses in multiple occupation; and
  • Overcrowding

The civil penalties are different from fixed penalties in that they are applied after the landlord has failed to carry out corrective actions and all other procedures, including appeals, have expired.

While £30,000 is the maximum fine, civil penalties can be as low as £1,000 but will be calculated on the degree of culpability and potential or actual harm. Rent repayment orders can also be applied where a landlord has failed to obtain a licence for a property in multi-occupancy, has threatened a tenant, illegally evicted a tenant or failed to comply with a banning order.

Cheshire East Council cabinet member for housing Councillor Ainsley Arnold said: “We want to make sure as a council that landlords in the borough, and their tenants, are aware of the measures that are being taken to ensure that housing in the rental market is of a high standard and meets the required criteria for health and safety.

“Poor housing can lead to health risks, especially from damp properties, and in some cases it is children who can be placed at risk. As a council we take our responsibilities for housing standards in all sectors very seriously.”