Landlord’s £900 bill for breaking the news

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A LANDLORD who failed to license a house he rented out has been handed a caution.

David Pinder also agreed to pay Sunderland City Council’s legal bill after admitting he breached a compulsory scheme set up in Hendon.

Pinder, of Adolphus Street in Seaham, was hit with £900 in court costs after proceedings brought by the authority relating to his house in Corporation Road.

The council’s housing team agreed to issue a caution due to Pinder’s ill health, after four hearings at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court. A caution is not a criminal conviction, but details of it will be kept by the council.

The landlord licensing scheme was launched in Hendon in July 2010. Costing almost £1.1million, the five-year drive to improve the ward was funded by regeneration project Back On The Map.

It was introduced in Middle Hendon and the Long Streets areas after a council report revealed they were blighted by high levels of crime and antisocial behaviour.

The Government-backed project covers 750 privately-rented homes.

Landlords must apply for a licence for each one of their properties and meet certain criteria.

So far 747 applications have been received and 723 licences issued.

Of these, 225 were ordered to make improvements to their houses, ranging from minor repairs to major works.

And 190 empty properties have been brought back into use, leaving 96 which have been empty for six months or more.

Tenants must also be vetted under the scheme, which has seen 47 out of 247 applicants turned down on the grounds of criminal or antisocial activity.

Landlords who refuse to obtain a licence can be prosecuted under the Housing Act, and four, with a total of five properties in the city, are facing court action.

This could see them have their houses brought under the control of the city council and force them to repay rent.

A landlord who failed to license his properties in Noble Street and Hendon Valley Road has been fined.

John Fletcher, of Glen Path in Ashbrooke, Sunderland, was found guilty in his absence of two offences under the Housing Act.

He had previously pleaded not guilty and was due to stand trial at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Magistrates fined him £2,000 and ordered he pay £600 towards court costs.

THE Housing Act 2004 gave councils the power to introduce licensing of privately rented properties in selected areas.

Selective licensing schemes are set up to deal with problems of either antisocial behaviour or low housing demand. It applies to all private rented properties within an area agreed by the Government and aims to improve conditions for tenants and the community.

Sunderland landlords have been offered free training sessions in a bid to educate them about selective licensing.