Landlord fined £12,000 by council

A landlord has been fined £12,000 for renting out a flat without a so-called selective licence after being taken to court by a council which has itself been branded as "toxic".

Back in 2011 Thanet district council in Kent designated areas of Cliftonville and Margate as a selective licensing area, within which most privately rented properties must be licensed. The measure was introduced to tackle alleged anti-social behaviour.

Sean Powell from Bayswater in London failed to make an application to the council despite renting out an apartment in Cliftonville. Powell pleaded guilty to the offence at Canterbury magistrates court and was fined £12,000. He also had to pay a victim surcharge and a contribution of £120 towards the council’s prosecution costs. 

"Many privately-rented properties in Cliftonville are linked to bad management and anti-social behaviour. This is why we introduced selective licensing, as it helps us to ensure that tenants are kept safe and neighbourhoods are not blighted by problem properties,” says David Green, the councillor with cabinet responsibility for housing.

Ironically, the council itself is in hot water for what observers may regard as anti-social behaviour of its own.

Last year the standards committee of the council claimed there were "disrespectful comments" and "personal threats" made at public meetings and said the council appeared "dysfunctional". 

This week the Local Government Association, a cross-party umbrella body supporting councils in England, issued a separate report about Thanet. It said: "You have not addressed some behaviours we described as 'toxic'. We found examples of antagonism, hostility, homophobia and discourtesy in the way that some councillors behave.”