A Burnley landlord has been fined £56,000 for breaking Burnley Council’s selective licensing scheme rules.
Landlord David Paul Vallender failed to apply for licenses for four properties he owned and rented out in Athol Street North, Bruce Street, Ada Street and Dickson Street, all of Burnley, under the council’s selective licensing scheme.
The council brought a successful prosecution against Vallender using legislation introduced by the government to help tackle “rogue” landlord property owners.
Burnley magistrates imposed fines on Vallender of £12,500 for each property. In addition to the fines he was ordered to pay a further £5,000 as a victim surcharge and £1,100 in court costs.
Vallender who did not attend the court hearing was found guilty in his absence.
The fines imposed and victim surcharge will go to central government, whereas the costs will go to the council to help cover the cost of bringing the prosecution.
The court was told that Vallender had asked for exemption forms for three of the properties in August 2016, but had failed to progress this any further despite several requests by the council up until December 2017. He had then promised to send the forms in by February 2018, but they were never received by the council.
Vallender, the court was told, had tried to avoid the selective licensing requirement by creating 21-year leases for his tenants. However, the ruse was not accepted by the court.
Councillor John Harbour, the executive member for housing and leisure, had said:
“The council is always willing to work with private landlords and support them in providing good quality and well managed homes for residents.
“In this case the landlord was given every opportunity to work with us but failed to provide the information we needed, despite repeated requests and meetings with officers.
“This was one of the biggest fines ever handed out by the courts in this country for failing to properly licence properties. It shows the importance of landlords and managing agents working with us to improve the management of privately rented houses in our borough.”
Under the Housing Act 2004 councils are given powers to introduce selective licensing schemes to deal with particular problems in specified problem locales in their boroughs.
These schemes are meant to be highly targeted measures to tackle the most severe housing problems arising from poor management of rental properties.
Burnley council is currently consulting the public and landlords in the area about proposals to renew its existing selective licensing schemes. These are currently effective in the Trinity, Gannow and Queensgate/Duke Bar areas, and it is looking to introduce a new scheme in Daneshouse with Stoneyholme.
Selective licensing in the private rented sector: a guide for local authorities – here
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