An unlicensed landlord in Liverpool has been fined almost £10,000 by a District Judge.
Liverpool’s Landlord Licensing Scheme came into force last year with the aim of driving up standards in the private rented sector, and action is now being taken against those who are still refusing to sign up.
Landlords have to meet a variety of conditions around fire, electric and gas safety rectifying disrepair issues, tackling pest infestations, keeping the exterior in a good state of repair and dealing with complaints about anti-social behaviour caused by tenants.
At Liverpool Magistrates Court on 23 February, Joseph McKeever of South Mossley Hill Road, Liverpool 19 was fined after being convicted of offences relating to two properties he was privately renting in the city.
Mr McKeever had not attended an earlier hearing on 9 February when he had been convicted in his absence of failing to licence two properties he was privately renting in Redbrook St in Anfield and Haven Road in Fazakerley, which is an offence under the Housing Act 2004.
He was also convicted of failing to respond to two legal notices sent to him asking for information under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.
Mr McKeever, who failed to attend court for sentencing, was fined £2,000 per offence for failing to licence the properties and £2,500 per offence for failing to comply with the legal notice.
He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £170 and pay the city council costs of £776.46 – a total of £9946.46.
So far the council has prosecuted 10 landlords who have been fined a total of around £27,000.
Cabinet Member for housing, Councillor Frank Hont, said: “This is the latest in a series of enforcement action we are taking against those landlords who failed to come on board and apply for licences when the scheme was introduced in 2015.
“A large proportion of landlords have willingly signed up for the scheme and are working positively with us, which is why it is not fair on them that some are wilfully ignoring the law.
“Mr McKeever’s failure to work with us is now costing him dear and a lot more than the few hundred pounds it would have cost him had he applied for the two licences in the first place.
“Our message to those landlords that haven’t signed up is that you are committing a criminal offence and if you don’t engage you will get a big bill in court.”
In sentencing District Judge Shaw commented on the fact that the properties had been rented by McKeever since at least 2013, and that he was in receipt of public funds in the form of housing benefit for the properties.
Around 8,000 landlords responsible for more than 44,000 properties are already engaged with the Landlord Licensing scheme.
Current and prospective tenants can access a database at www.liverpool.gov.uk/landlordlicensing to see if their landlord has started the application process.
Landlord licensing has the backing of campaign groups including Shelter and Generation Rent.