Published August 28, 2019 at 15:33
Rossendale Borough Council has used new funding to tackle rogue landlords and illegal practices in private renting.
The Council applied for Rogue Landlord Funding in 2018 from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and were successful in the bid.
The money has been used in a multi-agency approach to clampdown on dodgy practices in the private rented sector, concentrating on making landlords comply with fire safety legislation and meet minimum privately rented standards.
The focus has been in the borough’s town centres, where accommodation is often above shops and restaurants. These premises are at increased fire risk due to the many gas and electrical appliances in use. Some of this accommodation is occupied by vulnerable people and has often been converted into multi- occupied property, sometimes without appropriate planning, building control or fire safety input.
The funding has also helped the Council to carry out multi agency visits with our partners, including the Police and revenue protection officers from British Gas, to takeaways and restaurants in the Rossendale area to identify possible illegal abstraction of gas and electric supplies, identify potential fire hazards to employees and poor quality residential accommodation which does not comply with current regulations.
The project is ongoing but so far the Council has carried out over 30 inspections at premises throughout Rossendale and issues have been found with gas and electric meters at 10 premises – three of which were found to have serious and potentially very dangerous health and safety implications.
This resulted in prohibition notices being served which prevented electrical reconnections being made until the electrics had been made safe.
It is the legal responsibility of landlords and businesses to make sure
- They provide adequate housing standards in rented accommodation.
- Have appropriate fire safety measures and detection in place and carry out regular maintenance checks. https://www.rossendale.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/14384/fire_safety_guidance.pdf
- That gas checks are carried out by competent and qualified gas safe registered engineers and checks by competent electrical engineers.
Managers of properties in multiple occupations (HMO’s) have additional responsibilities under the legislation and larger HMO’s may require a licence from Environmental Health – https://www.rossendale.gov.uk/info/210172/housing_and_homelessness/10681/shared_houses_and_flats_in_multiple_occupation
Councillor Steve Hughes, Portfolio Holder for Communities and Customers, said:
We are determined to tackle rogue landlords in the borough. Tenants deserve a decent standard of living and this partnership work means that safety measures have been made and standards have been brought up.
It is the legal responsibility of landlords and businesses to make sure they meet all of these standards and landlords who knowingly rent out unsafe and substandard accommodation will be made to comply.”
Lancashire Fire and rescue service have a joint enforcing role and would also like to remind business and landlords:
Tony Crook, Acting Area Manager, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, Head of Service Development said:
Landlords and leaseholders are responsible for the safety of tenants and/or staff within these types of premises, and as such have a duty to ensure that people who use these premises are provided with a safe environment.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service will continue to focus our efforts and resources in providing advice and support to landlords that want it, but as with many cases will adopt a robust enforcement approach to deal with those who compromise on safety particularly where they show a blatant disregard to their tenant’s safety. I hope that landlords can see that responsibilities to meet fire safety obligations but fail to do so face severe penalties”.
Business Support Plus is a service provided by us to help you comply with fire safety regulations by providing an understanding of the law, information and access to a great range of services including a free fire risk assessment tool which will help you make an informed decision about fire safety.
Access can be found on the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Website for business safety. https://www.lancsfirerescue.org.uk/safety/business-safety/