A report from the Executive Director – Place is attached. (Key decision – reference number 5145)
Councillor George Savva (Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulatory Services) introduced the report of the Executive Director Place seeking delegated authority for the implementation and setting of the level of financial penalties to be imposed as set out in the report.
1. The introduction of financial penalties would provide an alternative option to prosecutions and were a significant tool to address poor housing conditions.
2. The penalties were set out within a framework including a sliding scale of penalties. These will be applied taking account of the seriousness of the case and the previous history of the offenders as well as other factors.
3. The framework would be reviewed after a year to check that it was working effectively.
4. When putting the framework together officers had reviewed schemes run by other boroughs to ensure that the Enfield scheme was in keeping with them.
Alternative Options Considered: NOTED, that the introduction of financial penalties would supplement and enhance the existing enforcement options currently available to the council. If financial penalties were not introduced, the council would continue to use criminal prosecution through the courts for contraventions of housing law by landlords and managing agents in the private rented sector. Prosecution could be resource intensive and time consuming with cases often taking many months to reach a court hearing. Financial penalties would provide more efficient and swifter sanctions for non-compliance but with criminal prosecution still reserved for more serious offences.
DECISION: The Cabinet agreed
1. To approve the proposed framework for determining the financial penalty and the penalty charge framework as outlined in Appendix 1. The framework had been developed in accordance with Section 249A and Schedule 13A of the HA 2004 (as amended), the Civil Penalties under the Housing and Planning Act 2016: Guidance for Local Housing Authorities, April 2018 (Statutory Guidance) and the ESSPRS Regulations 2020.
2. The decision by an officer to issue a ‘Notice of Intent to serve a financial penalty’ would be reviewed by their line manager before it was sent. It was recommended that the Head of Service in the Private Rented Sector Property Licensing and Enforcement Service or the Head of Regulatory Services be delegated the authority (and officers delegated by them) to consider any representations made by recipients of ‘Notices of Intent’ and determine the amount of financial penalty to impose (‘Final Notice’) in accordance with the framework in Appendix 1. This would assist with consistent decision making.
Reason: NOTED the following reasons for the recommendations:
· With approximately 34% of Enfield’s homes now privately rented, the regulation of the private rented sector required effective enforcement to ensure compliance. Financial penalties can be used as an alternative to prosecutions, but the ability to prosecute is still retained for the more serious offences. Therefore, financial penalties are an additional enforcement tool and will deliver swifter action against rogue landlords.
· The Statutory Guidance expects local authorities to develop and document its own policy on determining when to prosecute and when to issue a civil financial penalty, including the appropriate level of financial penalty as well as determining which option it wishes to pursue on a case-by-case basis in line with its policy. Appendix 1 proposes a framework to assist officers with determining the approach and the appropriate level of financial penalty to ensure consistency and transparency.
· The report also provides information on other relevant legislative changes to improve the regulation of the private rented sector.
(Key decision – reference number 5145)