Posted on Friday 1 December 2017
A Gateshead property rental company has been fined more than £17,600 after being convicted of operating without a landlord licence in a licensed area of Gateshead.
Thrower Stone Property Management Limited of Alexandra Road, Gateshead, which owns multiple properties in Gateshead, was fined £17,500 and ordered to pay £800 costs for failing to obtain a landlord licence for a property in Whitehall Road in Gateshead.
The case was heard on Wednesday 29 November at Sunderland Magistrates Court by a district judge.
The Judge heard evidence that the company had been negligent in failing to ensure that adequate procedures were in place to meet their licensing requirements, resulting in a property on Whitehall Road being rented out without a licence - despite warnings from Gateshead Council one month earlier.
The company was already renting out 13 properties in the licensing area for which it was the licence holder and had previously been warned about operating without a licence for a property in Stephenson Street, Gateshead after the Council discovered that it had been rented out for 11 months in 2014 and2015 without a licence. No formal action was taken by the Council on that occasion and a licence was granted retrospectively.
The Central Bensham Landlord Licensing scheme - which expired in May this year - began in 2012 and required all private landlords operating in the area to be fit and proper and to obtain a licence from the Council to operate. The scheme was introduced to help improve the neighbourhood, which has suffered from low housing demand and high rates of anti-social behaviour.
Attached to a licence are numerous conditions which a landlord must comply with to ensure that private landlords are directly accountable for the management of their properties and tenants
Anneliese Hutchinson, service director for Development, Transport and Public Protection, says:
“The judge has taken a pretty dim view of this case because the defendant really didn’t have any excuse.
“This is an experienced property firm and they really should have known better.
“We have worked long and hard to drive up standards in the private-rented sector in this area and our Landlord Licensing Scheme has played a major role in dealing with some of the anti-social tenants, and their indifferent landlords, that have previously blighted this area.
“The law is very clear - if a landlord in a selective licensing area doesn’t have a licence, or they are breaching the conditions of their licence, then they are committing an offence. This prosecution makes clear the risks that landlords run by not failing to stay within the law.”