South Hams District Council investigated a complaint from an elderly vulnerable tenant regarding housing disrepair. The disrepair was affecting his health and the landlord had not done any repairs for a considerable amount of time.

A large damp patch, and black mould on the wall next to radiator in customer's home.

Following an investigation, an improvement notice was served requiring repairs to the heating system, fire proofing and prevention of damp.

With no evidence to suggest that the landlord was going to do the work, a decision was made for the District Council to serve him with a £18,000 civil penalty instead of starting a prosecution. 

Since the penalty was issued, the landlord has now organised for the repairs to be carried out.  Not only has the landlord had to pay the penalty amount he has also had to pay for the repairs at the same time.

South Hams District Council's Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Jonathan Hawkins, said: "This is fantastic news for the tenant.  It is also a great result for the Council.  A prosecution would have taken a considerable amount of time and money.  We have achieved a great outcome for the tenant in a relatively short period of time.

"It is important for landlords to know that we have these powers and where necessary we will use them to protect our most vulnerable residents."

The Council decided to issue civil penalties, under section 249a of The Housing Act 2004 as an alternative to a prosecution.  This new policy (Section 126 and schedule 9 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016) came into force on April 6, 2017.

This gives the Local Housing Authority the power to issue a financial penalty for certain housing offences, they include:

  • Failure to comply with an improvement notice
  • Offences in relation to HMO licensing
  • Offences relating to the contravention of an overcrowding notice
  • Failure to comply with the HMO management regulations

Cllr Hawkins continued: "If you find yourself in the same position as the tenant, or you are caring for a vulnerable person in this position, you can contact the Council for advice on the options available to you."

For further information, go to: www.southhams.gov.uk/rentalhousingstandards

Issued: 20 January 2020