Shropshire Council

Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy

Our Housing Enforcement Team is committed to improving standards in private rented sector housing, ensuring rented accommodation is well managed, properly maintained, safe and habitable. They also licence houses in multiple occupancies and work with owners to bring empty homes back into use.

The private rented sector plays an important role in the county’s housing market. We share the government’s desire to support good landlords and agents who provide decent well-maintained homes. We also support cracking down on unscrupulous landlords who are flouting the law and seeking profit from their noncompliance.

We are keen to strike the right balance on regulations in order to avoid stifling investment in this sector. A small number of rogue or criminal landlords knowingly rent out unsafe and substandard accommodation. We are as a council are determined to create a level playing field for all landlords by dealing robustly with criminal, rogue and irresponsible landlords.

Cabinet approved the original Private Rented Sector Housing Enforcement Policy in July 2019. This Policy was brought into effect in order to reflect a range of new powers that were given to the council under the Housing and Planning Act 2016. This included, amongst others, the power to impose civil (financial) penalties of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution. The new powers were and continue to be aimed at tackling the small number of criminals, rogue and irresponsible landlords. If we believe that it has a reasonable prospect of a conviction in a particular case, it will always consider a civil penalty in the first instance.

Our revised Private Rented Sector Housing Enforcement Policy was approved in July 2022 and extended the use of civil financial penalties, specifically in relation to The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations and The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015.

Regulation 11 of the Electrical Safety Standards Regulations gives us the power to impose civil penalties of up to £30,000. Regulation 38 of the Energy Efficiency Regulations gives the us the power to impose civil penalties of up to £5,000. It is for us to determine the level of any civil penalty and details of how the amount is determined are explained in the policy.

Where the council is permitted to do so, it is the intention that it will charge for all notices served unless there are extenuating and exceptional circumstances that would indicate this is disproportionate to the desired outcome.

The amount is a fixed charge and is based on the time taken to produce and issue the notice. Where the time required to undertake the work in relation to notices greatly exceeds that which has been estimated for the purposes of the fixed charge, a higher charge will be made, based on a calculated hourly rate. The council wants to work with landlords to resolve issues as quickly as possible; for this reason, the co-operation of the landlord is a key factor that will be taken into account when determining the amount of any additional administration expense incurred.

The charge for each Notice is £350 from 1 April 2023. Any additional hours will be charged at £79.00 per hour.

Section 50 of the Housing Act 2004 gives the council powers to recover the expenses incurred as a result of issuing statutory notices. A demand for payment of the charge will be served on the person from whom the authority seek to recover it. A charge will be placed as a local land charge on the property to which it relates. This is recorded in the register of local land charges maintained by HM Land Registry, until the expenses are repaid to the council. This register is normally searched during a property sale by purchasers

The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 and the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (Amendment) Regulations 2022 came into force on 1 October 2022.

All relevant landlords must:

  1. Ensure at least one smoke alarm is equipped on each storey of their homes where there is a room used as living accommodation. This has been a legal requirement in the private rented sector since 2015
  2. Ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is equipped in any room used as living accommodation which contains a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers)
  3. Ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are repaired or replaced once informed and found that they are faulty

The requirements are enforced by local authorities who can impose a fine of up to £5,000 where a landlord fails to comply with a remedial notice.

Local Housing Authorities are required to prepare and publish a Statement of Principles which it must have regard to, in determining the amount of a penalty charge.

Shropshire Council will have regard to the following statement when determining the amount of a penalty charge and we may revise and republish the statement when necessary.

Statement of Principles – Shropshire Council

Where the council is satisfied that a landlord on whom a Remedial Notice has been served continues to be in breach of their duty to provide smoke and/or carbon monoxide alarms in working order, the council may issue a financial penalty charge. The penalty charge is designed to

  • Seek to deter repeat breaches of these regulations
  • Deter others from committing the offence
  • Remove any financial benefit the offender may have obtained as a result of committing the offence
  • Recover the costs of any works carried out by the council

The council will impose the maximum penalty level of £5,000 for any breach of the Regulations; however, where representations are received that demonstrate the breach/breaches occurred due to extenuating and exceptional circumstances, the level of the penalty will be independently reviewed by a senior manager and may be reduced. A financial penalty will be imposed only after engagement with the landlord has been attempted, in order to discuss how and why compliance with the Regulations has not been possible.