December 18, 2023 7:33 am

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Nikka Sulton

Brighton’s Labour council is taking a significant step to improve the standard of privately rented homes in the city by introducing charges for the issuance of Improvement Notices to landlords. This measure is aimed at ensuring that landlords fulfill necessary work to meet the required housing standards. The decision, strategically announced during the Christmas season, underscores the council’s commitment to enhancing the living conditions of residents in privately rented properties.

As part of their initiative, the council seeks to address issues related to housing standards in the private rental sector. The introduction of charges for ‘Improvement Notices’ serves as a proactive approach to encourage landlords to undertake essential work to maintain and elevate the quality of housing in Brighton. The move aligns with the council’s broader goal of fostering improved living conditions and tenant satisfaction in the city’s rental properties.

Commencing from January 2, 2024, Brighton’s Labour council is set to introduce new charges related to the issuance of improvement notices and other notices governed by the Housing Act 2004 and the Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy. This strategic move is part of the council’s broader efforts to enhance the quality of privately rented homes within the city. By imposing these charges, the council aims to ensure that landlords fulfill their responsibilities and bring their properties up to the required standards.

The cost structure for these charges will be tailored to individual cases, taking into account the staff time invested and the expenses incurred during enforcement actions. The anticipated fee is estimated to be in the vicinity of £500. This initiative is rooted in the council’s commitment to improving the housing standards across the city and fostering a proactive engagement between landlords and regulatory authorities to create a more habitable living environment for residents.

According to the statement, despite the responsible management of properties by many landlords, reported issues to the council indicate a lack of consistency in the standard of private rented homes throughout the city. This prompts the introduction of a charge for issuing an Improvement Notice to encourage landlords to meet required standards.

The statement clarifies that in cases where landlords fail to comply with the Improvement Notice, the council will continue to consider prosecution or impose a financial penalty, maintaining the existing approach to ensure accountability and adherence to housing standards.

Councillor Gill Williams, chair of the housing and new homes committee, underscores a resolute commitment to addressing issues plaguing the city’s private rented homes. Adopting a more robust approach, the council aims to hold landlords accountable for neglecting property maintenance and failing to uphold the rights of tenants to enjoy their homes without compromising on standards.

While acknowledging the presence of responsible landlords, Williams acknowledges persistent concerns voiced by residents regarding others who fall short in maintaining their properties. The private sector housing team actively collaborates with landlords to instigate improvements in rental accommodations. In line with this proactive approach, the introduction of charges is envisioned to cover the council’s expenses incurred in enforcing necessary improvements, reflecting a collective effort to enhance the overall quality of private rented housing.

Williams emphasizes the critical role of improvement notices, particularly under the Deregulation Act 2015, in shielding tenants from potential retaliatory evictions prompted by complaints about property conditions. This protective measure becomes a cornerstone of the council’s strategy to ensure private tenants are shielded from unfair practices. The decision to introduce charges is positioned as a practical step, essential for sustaining the council’s commitment to enforcing improvements and safeguarding the well-being of tenants, thereby fostering a more secure and habitable housing environment.

The exact charge – which could exceed £500 if the council sees fit – varies according to the inspection time including travel time, the “evaluation of inspection, preparation of defects schedule and specification” and the “administration costs in typing, serving and recording of notices.”

And the council says this will be based on “our hourly chargeable rates.”


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