Licensing Scheme Makes First Prosecution

A council’s first non-compliance case arising from its newly implemented landlord licensing scheme has seen one individual plead guilty to 12 separate offences.

John Bradley, resident of Coulby Newham, a Teesside locality, is set to be sentenced on the 23rd March after pleading guilty to 12 separate offences of being in control of, or managing a property without adequate licensing.

Over the 12 months since the implementation of the scheme, the local council, situated in Middlebrough, claims to have exceeded any previous expectations of the scheme’s success. The council have received 608 applications, equating to 81 per cent of licensable properties within the bounds of the scheme.

The newly implemented programme is facilitated through a multi-agency team involving a a licensing officer, environmental health staff and several other roles. Inspections have been carried out at over 280 properties. Follow up actions as a result of these have ranged from referrals to the fire brigade and reports of environmental concerns such as fly-tipping.

Many of the aforementioned cases have resulted in the landlord correcting the issue, however certain problems have led to court action being required. Landlords who have failed to apply for a license under the scheme are now being pursued through legal proceedings. The authority has asserted that this could ultimately lead to prosecution in many cases.

Licensing schemes are implemented by local councils, usually as a way to keep track of the swiftly expanding private rental sector and ensure that standards are maintained. Their key focus is rooting out rogue landlords in order to avoid the compromise of tenant safety and security. However, several of the schemes have come under fire from landlord associations as a costly and counterproductive measure to uphold the buy to let sector.