First landlord prosecuted under Rotherham Council’s selective licensing scheme

Published Wednesday, 23rd March 2016
Rotherham law courts
Rotherham Law Courts

A Rotherham landlord has been ordered to pay more than £1,000 at Rotherham Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to operating a rented house without a licence.

The house on Avondale Road in the Masbrough Selective Licensing Area was identified in October 2015 by the Council’s Community Protection Unit who identified the unlicensed house due to a large accumulation of household waste in the rear garden.

Licensing of private rented housing was implemented in four areas of Rotherham in May 2015 (Eastwood, Masbrough, Dinnington and Maltby South East), with the intention of improving the management standards in the private rented sector.

The aim is to help tackle issues such as poor property standards and high levels of anti-social behaviour which often lead to short term tenancies and put people off wanting to stay in the area.

Graham Adams, the Director of Alvastone Property and Development Limited, was fined £460, on 16 March and ordered to pay the Council’s costs of £559.34 with a victim surcharge of £46.

The house is now empty but if it is to be re-let the company has to apply to the Council for a licence which will cost a further £592.

Mr Adams admitted in court that he had failed to licence the house despite receiving letters and warnings that he needed to do so. He also failed to attend an interview with the Council to explain the reasons for not licensing.

Councillor Emma Wallis, Advisory Cabinet Member for Housing said: "This is an important first case in Rotherham where a landlord has paid the penalty for ignoring a licensing regime which is designed to drive up standards in this growing sector.

"This prosecution demonstrates the council’s commitment to rooting out rogue landlords, and ensuring that their properties meet the standards we expect.

"This first case shows that the council means business, and will hopefully act as a deterrent to other landlords who may be considering not complying with the scheme."

John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne and Shadow Secretary of State for Housing and Planning, added: "The new Selective Licensing scheme will boost parts of Rotherham and provide much needed support to communities through tackling things like anti-social behaviour and sub-standard property conditions.

"The Council consulted widely in the areas that are affected and found that the vast majority of residents were in favour of the initiative.

“Residents and responsible landlords have long been concerned that some landlords are profiting from renting out properties in very poor condition, which has had a knock-on effect on people’s health and quality of life.

"These communities will benefit greatly as the Council takes decisive action against these landlords, making sure they improve conditions once and for all.

"This really is a ground-breaking scheme, which points the way for other councils on how to raise standards for private renters."

Two cases in addition to this prosecution are currently being prepared for court by the Council’s Legal Services covering 34 flats and houses. Further cases are being developed for prosecution by the Community Protection Unit as owners have failed to apply for licenses after a series of warnings.

Find out more about selective licensing in Rotherham