Zero Tolerance – £30k per offence?

by Readers Question

12:13 PM, 16th July 2019
About 2 years ago

Zero Tolerance – £30k per offence?

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Zero Tolerance – £30k per offence?

My council have invented a ‘zero tolerance’ policy in relation to enforcement of housing standards. They are saying that effectively they can fine up to 30k PER ‘OFFENCE’ and will be an ‘on the spot’ type of fine whereby the landlord will not be given any chance whatsoever to put the situation right, they will just be given a 30k fine.

This includes properties not requiring a licence. How can this possibly be even legal?

The ‘policy’ was ratified by the Council and signed off, however NONE of the landlords I am speaking to on a regular basis have been made aware of this policy. Surely Council’s can’t do this in a civilised society?

They can fine, for instance, if they do a door to door patrol and find a fire door wedged open, exit blocked etc etc or you have simply not understood the regulations. They can fine you for just ‘getting it wrong’ and gone are the days when you receive an HHSRS giving you a timeline to do the work.

I wondered if anyone else has come across this and if this should be legally challenged?

Marie

Comments

Luke P

14:22 PM, 17th July 2019
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by paul landlord at 17/07/2019 - 14:08Possibly so, but then we’re back to ‘the big two’ being phenomenally weaker than they oughta be because individual LLs or even a local association cannot raise national awareness (against a tide of apathy) very easily. I’m sure I had an article go up on here a while back with little response.

Chris @ Possession Friend

14:29 PM, 17th July 2019
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by paul landlord at 17/07/2019 - 14:08
Paul,
you must be an exception. There is TREMENDOUS apathy amongst landlords,
only 2% of Landlords can be bothered to belong to any Trade association - Landlord group.
and you weren't exactly deafened when Govt announced Sec 24 Interest restrictions, or even the latest plans to abolish Sec 21.

Hamish McBloggs

16:38 PM, 18th July 2019
About 2 years ago

So, if a tenant does something they shouldn't then is it the LL's fault?

I was told by B Gas that the hob failed it's safety test.

I told the Engineer that it was because the tenant has (to coin a politically correct euphemism), 'alternative cleanliness objectives'.

I cleaned the crowns and caps using sugar soap and elbow grease only to have them return to the same condition within a week.

I was told that there was vermin. Again I explained that we are all individual and that if the tenant wanted to store food on the floor then who was I to correct them?

I fitted an electric hob, tightly fitted all units so that there was zero possibility of food getting into cracks and I told the tenant to sweep, vacuum and wash.

Cooking with a ceramic electric hob is not the same apparently. And more expensive I was told firmly. The tenant moved out.

How, without intrusive perpetual observation and instantly available resources for all eventualities, can LL make sure all is complied with 100% of the time? Of course this assumes the tenant is understanding and permits instant remedial work or changes their ways without the LL resorting to the courts.

How is it possible to stop a tenant propping open a fire door with a fire extinguisher in hot weather,,, or even whilst moving in/out when doors are a simply in the way. Something adequately demonstrated at halls of residences all over the country as young adults are dropped off to start their first year.

H&S training I received some while back gave illustrations ...

... a petrol tanker driver lighting a fag and coming a cropper. The employer was liable because they had not given the 'don't light fags training'.

... Cricket ball killing a passer by, cricket club not liable as they had consulted with HSE and met all the netting/screen requirements.

So I draw a parallel.

Government defines the tenant and landlord equivalent of HSE training. Landlord complies then therefore cannot be fined. If the tenant chooses to chew through a cable it is their fault and to prevent it from happening again, the gov't revisions add the 'don't chew through cables' training to the tenant's learning activities. (except they would add that all cables should be armoured by the LL to a standard that exceeds MOD requirements and should be out of reach of teeth, false or otherwise)

What if a tenant buys second hand furniture that has bedbugs which then infests the house? LL's fault?

What if they don't clear up after their own dog and slip in the mess catching toxoplasmosis on the way down to receive that chronic concussion?

A council's social housing should be held to the same standards and have to abide by the same rules and they should be audited by us.

'On the spot' 30k fines cannot be legal.

It seems like the word 'reasonable' has been removed. Even murderers, rapists and neo-fascists are entitled to a defence.

Hamish

Dr Rosalind Beck

16:59 PM, 18th July 2019
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Hamish McBloggs at 18/07/2019 - 16:38
Pretty soon if one of our tenants attacks someone in the street, it will be the landlord who goes to jail.

Chris @ Possession Friend

17:32 PM, 18th July 2019
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Dr Rosalind Beck at 18/07/2019 - 16:59I think that's what the Council term ASB, covered under the '" Additionally Selective "' Licensing schemes '-)))

Ian Narbeth

17:46 PM, 18th July 2019
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Hamish McBloggs at 18/07/2019 - 16:38Hamish
I sympathise with your frustration. One point. You write: "How is it possible to stop a tenant propping open a fire door with a fire extinguisher in hot weather". Use a Dorgard. They are in use in hotels and we use them in our HMOs. The door can be held open but when there is a continuous 15 second noise such as the fire alarm (the vacuum cleaner will also trigger them) the mechanism is released and the door closes. Not cheap at about £110 each but a lot cheaper than the alternative. They also give the tenants no excuse for blocking the door open.
You would think their benefits would be obvious but I had to explain to one housing officer how they worked and to explain that this was much better than my simply exhorting the tenants not to use a wedge to hold the door open.

Ian Narbeth

17:50 PM, 18th July 2019
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Dr Rosalind Beck at 18/07/2019 - 16:59
Have had one Council complaining to us because our tenant was allegedly repairing cars in the street outside. I told them to use their own formidable resources to enforce if there is a breach of the law. It's not for Landlords to police our tenants' behaviour.

Dr Rosalind Beck

17:56 PM, 18th July 2019
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 18/07/2019 - 17:50I also heard we may be liable to a fine if our tenants put their rubbish or recycling in the wrong bin. If I had to police that I would be driving around for hours every evening and even if I'd pulled everything out of each bin to check the contents anyone could put things in after that. Not sure where I heard that one. It's absolutely farcical.
We'll be liable for wiping a certain part of their anatomy soon.

Hamish McBloggs

8:33 AM, 19th July 2019
About 2 years ago

That's the sort of story Esther Rantzen and her team used to deal with!

Would a council really be stupid enough to fine a landlord for that?

H

Hamish McBloggs

8:45 AM, 19th July 2019
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 18/07/2019 - 17:46
I know exactly the devices you mean.

You could offer the LA a course in the product that will no doubt have BS and EN compliance stamped all over it.

This will be a positive for the LA too as it will assist the 'managers' meet their CPD, training and enrichment targets for the FY.

There would be no reason to decline if it were free.

H

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