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The council is increasing the charges it makes to landlords when it issues them notices regarding unsatisfactory housing.
Cherwell District Council makes these charges under the 2004 Housing Act to recover the costs it incurs issuing Improvement Notices and Prohibition Orders. From 1 October the minimum charge will rise to £200 from £150.
As a key part of its enforcement policy, the council deals with housing problems informally in the first instance. It adopts the formal approach in urgent cases or when the informal approach has not worked.
“It is important that the council reassures tenants and the public that it is serious about enforcement. That is one of the most important aspects of these enforcement charges.
“The vast majority of landlords are co-operative when it comes to making the necessary improvements to rented properties, and last year we were able to successfully able to resolve 74 per cent of cases without needing to resort to formal enforcement.
“However, if getting improvements made means going down the formal route then there is expense involved, and we are entitled to recover those costs from the landlord. This year we are increasing the minimum charge for notices to more accurately reflect the typical cost of inspecting a property, assessing what needs to be done, and then preparing and serving the notices.”
To recover these costs the council typically issues a demand for payment at the same time as the enforcement notice. The outstanding sum is recorded as a local land charge that accumulates interest until it is paid.
If improvement notices are ignored, the council also has the power to increase the charge, to prosecute, and in some cases, to carry out the work at the owner’s expense.
For more information on Cherwell’s enforcement policy please visit: http://www.cherwell.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=10389
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