ROGUE landlords are being warned they could soon be facing court action.
Council officials are preparing to take action against any landlords who are dodging membership of the city’s selective licensing scheme.
The five-year compulsory landlord licensing project requires owners to meet certain criteria before they can rent out property in parts of Hendon.
Sunderland City Council launched the scheme in July 2010 and hundreds of licences have been awarded.
But action is set to be taken against a hardcore of those who refuse to comply.
Interviews under caution are set to take place during the coming months.
And any court cases could start as soon as this summer, with convictions leading to fines of up to £20,000.
Landlords could also face having rent clawed back and given to the tenant or local authority.
Derek Welsh, housing and neighbourhood renewal manager, said: “The vast majority of landlords in Sunderland are good, reasonable landlords.
“But there are some that don’t manage their homes well and don’t manage their tenants well.
“We are now in the second stage of the legislation, taking prosecutions against people. In the last year-and-a-half, we have made some great inroads.”
Businessman Julian Chadwick runs Manor Property Management company, which looks after about 100 privately-rented homes. He also lets out five of his own properties.
He admits to having mixed feelings when the scheme was introduced.
He said: “I thought, here we go, another pop at landlords. We always do things by the book and try to do everything OK.
“But when tenants cause you a problem, then no-one is interested. Tenants often leave a pile of rubbish – toys, nappies. These people should be blacklisted, because they move from landlord to landlord and cause all kinds of problems.”
But Mr Chadwick said he has noticed an improvement around the area covered by the scheme.
He said: “I was talking to another landlord and we were saying there seemed to be less boarded-up properties and less to let boards and we think that is due to selective licensing.
“I think it is about an improvement and any improvement will help.
“The council is up against one or two landlords that evade capture and that is a long, drawn-out process.”
At the end of December, 646 applications had been made to the council, relating to 720 properties.
Out of 2,500 homes in the selective licensing area, 70 properties owned by 30 landlords are still unlicensed.
A total of 470 licenses were issued with conditions attached where improvements needed to be made to the property and 192 properties were brought up to standard with informal action.
About 21 properties which were standing empty for more than six months have also been brought back into use.