Portsmouth Council is trumpeting its HMO licensing scheme’s success despite fining just seven landlords and agents last year.
Housing enforcement officers issued £38,500 in civil penalties to rogue landlords and agents caught breaking property housing laws – but £18,000 of this relates to one case.
Landlords Jaspal Singh Ojla and Raswinder Kaur Ojla were fined £6,000 for not licensing a 12-bedroom HMO in Plymouth Street, while letting agent Kings Estates was also fined £6,000.
While the landlord accepted the fine, the agency appealed and the court then decided the council had been too lenient, bumping its fine up to £12,000.
Martin Silman (pictured), chairman of Portsmouth & District Private Landlords Association, says cases of ill-informed or insufficiently engaged landlords are few and far between.
He tells LandlordZONE: “There aren’t any rogues out there, yet the council keeps inventing ridiculous rules to catch out landlords and make it look like they are improving things.
“By comparison, I have at least 20 members complaining about the unrealistic hurdles they are being asked to jump relating to testing of fire alarms and fire safety generally.”
As part of a £4m handout to around 100 local authorities in the UK last year, the city council was given £85,686 to compile a comprehensive private housing database.
It also plans to consult this year on reintroducing additional licencing for HMOs.
The council insists that landlords and agents have a range of responsibilities and that it won’t tolerate them acting irresponsibly.
Councillor Darren Sanders (pictured), cabinet member for housing and preventing homelessness says: “Landlords and agents must take their responsibility seriously and ensure that they are following legislations and laws in place to keep people safe. We will continue to issue fines to those who continue to break the law.”