York Council is seeking the introduction of fixed penalty notices for letting agents and landlords in the city who are found to be deliberately flouting the law.
The council says it will fine any agent that does not belong to one of the three government-approved redress schemes or does not disclose details of its fees in line with legislation introduced in May.
It also says that any landlords who have not installed smoke detectors on every storey of every rented property and or not fitted carbon monoxide alarms in every room where there is a solid fuel-burning appliance will also face a fine.
The law will be enforced by the council’s Executive Member, who will also be responsible for setting the levels of fines that can be charged for non-compliance.
The recommendation is for a maximum £5,000 penalty for each instance of non-compliance and to delegate the power to the Housing Services Manager who will be given discretion to lower the fine in extenuating circumstances.
“While we acknowledge that the majority of York’s letting agents serve landlords and tenants well, we want to support and recognise good practice while penalising those who fall below required standards. The city’s private rented sector has grown significantly and accommodates some of our most vulnerable households and we want to ensure they get a fair deal,” says Councillor David Carr, Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods.
The new rules will be finalised at a Decision Session taking place in York on August 25.
Since it became mandatory for all letting agents to join a redress scheme on October 1 2014, various organisations have voiced concerns that the rules are not being policed properly.
In November TV channel LondonLive claimed that a number of councils in the capital were doing nothing to enforce the redress scheme rules.
And in July, Ajay Jagota of KIS Lettings in the north east expressed his dismay that there had been no prosecutions made by five of his local councils.
However, last month Sheffield Council reported that it had fined 11 agencies a total of £37,000 for not being members of a redress scheme.