20 March 2019 - The use of civil penalties as an extra tool in the battle against rogue landlords will be considered by councillors this week.

The Policy Oversight and Strategy Committee will decide whether to implement a Civil Penalties Policy when it meets on Thursday (21 March). If approved, Basildon Council will have the power to issue fines of up to £30,000 to landlords who knowingly rent out sub-standard accommodation. This money will be re-invested into private sector housing enforcement.

The policy will be used to decide when a civil penalty is a suitable alternative to prosecution and to calculate the level of penalty to be imposed.

Cllr Andrew Baggott, Leader of Basildon Council, said: "Everyone deserves to live in a safe, decent home which is free from hazards. We're committed to cracking down on unscrupulous landlords who flout the law and fail to meet the required standards, but we're currently limited to costly and lengthy prosecutions. Although the same burden of proof is required, civil penalties offer an alternative approach which will mean any income can be used to further boost our enforcement work."

Earlier this month the landlord of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) was fined £2,646 and costs of £2,000 plus a £170 victim surcharge after pleading guilty to three charges relating to his failure to comply with fire safety requirements.