05 Dec 2017

Four Gainsborough landlords have been fined and ordered to pay costs totalling £232,155.68.

They are the first landlords to be prosecuted under West Lindsey District Council’s selective licensing scheme.

Magistrates heard one case at Lincoln in October and sentenced three others the same day, sending a clear message to landlords that tough penalties will be issued where properties are unlicenced. Collectively all four landlords incurred fines totalling £213,000 for 15 offences of failing to comply with selective licensing.

The biggest fine of £108,000 was given to landlord, Jagdish Singh of Leicester. He pleaded guilty to ‘failure to licence’ eight of his properties, receiving a fine of £13,500 per offence. It is believed to be the largest fine issued to one landlord to date in the country, for renting out properties without a selective licence.

Singh also pleaded guilty to three offences relating to the failure to comply with improvement notices and fined a further £4,500 for each offence and ordered to pay costs of £2,000.

The council introduced selective licensing in July 2016 in certain parts of Gainsborough to improve property standards and management and reduce ASB. All landlords need to apply for a licence for each rental property they own.

The other three defendants also from Leicester jointly own several of the unlicensed properties with Singh. Gurjit Singh and Balbir Kaur had previously been found guilty for two ‘failure to licence’ offences each. They were both fined £15,000 for two offences each and ordered to each pay costs and surcharges of £1218.

Harpal Bindra Singh previously had three ‘failure to licence’ offences heard and determined in his absence and was fined £15,000 per offence. He was also found guilty for one failure to comply with an improvement notice and given the maximum £5,000 fine and ordered to pay costs and surcharges of £1218.

West Lindsey District Council successfully applied for Criminal Behaviour Orders on all the defendants which imposes conditions on the letting and management of any properties owned within the district for a period of ten years.

Cllr Sheila Bibb, Chairman of the Prosperous Communities Committee at the council said: “The courts have made it very clear in these prosecutions – that landlords will face tough fines and restrictions if they do not comply with the scheme.

“The private rented sector is the only option available for some of the most vulnerable people in our area and this action sends a clear message that the council wishes to work with good landlords to improve this sector and identify the poor or criminal landlords.

However, Cllr Bibb explained that this was really just the start of a process to make improvements to the conditions of housing in the area.  She said: “While we will try and help landlords through the licensing process, those who simply ignore their statutory obligations will be prosecuted. We are currently investigating other landlords for operating unlicensed within the area and further prosecutions will follow.”

More than 350 dwellings are now licensed in the area of the town and significant efforts are being made to ensure that all landlords comply with the scheme, with formal action being considered for those who do not.

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