City of Edinburgh Council response regarding claims not enough action is taken against criminal landlords
The following is Councillor Rob Munn's response to new campaign by the Edinburgh Private Tenants Action Group.
Councillor Rob Munn , Convenor of the City of Edinburgh Council 's Regulatory Committee, said: "The prosecution of landlords who show a blatant disregard for the registration and licensing schemes sends a clear message that this will not be tolerated. Such action will be welcomed by all tenants and law abiding landlords.
"Tenants have the right to a decent standard of living in a safe and secure home and landlords should make sure they provide this.
"The significant level of informal and formal enforcement activity in Edinburgh shows that we will take appropriate action against those landlords who do not comply."
Statutory Enforcement with regard to Private Rented Sector (PRS) Landlords
Since January 2010 the Council has reported 80 offences involving properties that were not appropriately licensed or registered with the Council.
Fines totalling £3,525 were levied with regard to 18 of the offences. In addition 23 offences resulted in a written warning by the Procurator Fiscal and one offence resulted in an admonishment from the Court. Only one offence has resulted in a not guilty verdict. The remainder were abandoned due to non attendance of witnesses or a Procurator Fiscal decision not to proceed with the prosecution.
The majority of compliance with the law is achieved though informal enforcement action therefore the number of offences requiring prosecution is relatively small. Of those considered for prosecution account is taken of the sufficiency of evidence, proportionality, and difficulties in relation to achieving the attendance of the witnesses in court.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
Within the same period the Council has obtained 446 HMO licences as a direct result of enforcement action; carried out 11,839 property inspections to assess and enforce the HMO property standards and refused over 100 HMO licences.
The Council currently has 406 active investigations into landlords and agents ranging from allegations of failure to manage antisocial behaviour, disrepair of property, and running unlicensed HMOs
Since January 2010 the Council has received 9438 applications for Landlord Registration of which 252 remain pending further background checks, investigation and clarification. The remainder have been assessed and approved.
On 31 August 2011 the Scottish Government commended the HMO provisions of the Housing ( Scotland ) Act 2006. The 2006 Act introduces a number of new enforcement powers for local authorities and increases the maximum fine level for running an unlicensed HMO to £50,000. The same maximum fine exists for failing to be registered.
Complaints received by the Council range from the unfair loss of deposits, failure to carry out repairs and the poor condition of a property, right through to abusive behaviour and illegal evictions.
There are legal requirements for landlords of private rented residences to register and, in addition, to obtain a licence for any which are let in multiple occupation with three or more unrelated tenants. Local authorities can refuse or revoke a registration of licence under registration and licensing legislation.
Tenants can protect themselves by checking if their landlord is registered on the Scottish Government's National Landlord Registration website. Unregistered and unlicensed lets can be reported to the Local Authority.
Tenants who feel unfairly treated by a landlord failing to deal with their requests to have repairs carried out can report these to the independent Private Rented Housing Panel.
For advice on landlord problems in Edinburgh please report them to the Council-run Private Rented Services on 0131 529 7454.