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Criminal record for buy to let investor who didn’t have the right paperwork

A buy to let investor has been left with a £2,000 bill and a criminal conviction after letting out his property without the appropriate licence.

Anthony Bellingham was prosecuted by a council in County Durham us for breaching the requirements of a licensing scheme in the Easington Colliery area. 

Local magistrates heard the council received information last May suggesting that a property within the licensing area which had been rented out since November 2017, had changed ownership. 


A letter was sent to the new owner, Bellingham who lives near Girona in Spain, advising him to apply for a licence within 28 days.

The court was told Bellingham phoned the council to say he was out of the country until the end of the August, resulting in him being e-mailed to allow him to apply while abroad.

The council claims that over the next two months, e-mails and letters were sent to the defendant, reminding him he needed a licence. Magistrates were told Bellingham did not seek one and so was prosecuted for not having a licence.

The defendant did not attend the hearing or write to the court, and magistrates fined him £1,500 and ordered him to pay £350 costs and a victim surcharge of £150.

A council spokesman says: "Selective licensing transforms areas by improving the standard of housing for entire neighbourhoods. It leads to more reliable, longer term tenancies; higher quality and safer housing standards; reduced levels of homelessness; and increased property and rent values which in turn helps create greater community cohesion. It offers landlords help to deal with problem residents and access to a scheme through which they can vet prospective tenants. However, it only works if landlords cooperate.”

  • S l
    • S l
    • 03 May 2019 09:38 AM

    These council spokesman havent got a clue what they are saying. "Providing Long term tenancies? reducing homelessness? Tenancies are base on demand and there are lack of demand for long term tenancies and what the council did was only lip service. Homelessness are caused mainly by non payment of rent and being evicted for rent arrears and damages caused to the rented property and nothing licencing did could have avoided that. Only increase the number of rogue tenants trashing other hard working landlords properties and get the MPs and council to back up such rogue tenants.

  • S l
    • S l
    • 03 May 2019 09:40 AM

    There is something very wrong here. Wonder if the Magistrates have legal background to know that in order to sue someone, i would have thought that the Claimant would have to go to the court where the Defendant resides????? Isnt that the basic requirement of a claim??? So how come the council can get a judgment in a UK court when the defendant clearly said he is overseas?

  • Suzy OShea

    I'm not sure that is a legal requirement if the owner resides overseas where british law does not run!


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