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Landlord fined for falling foul of Selective Licensing rules

Wirral Council is warning landlords who own and let properties in any of the borough’s selective licensing areas that if they fail to comply with the scheme robust action will be taken against them.

The warning comes after the latest court action taken by the council resulted in fines of more than £16,000 being handed down to a family who rent out a flat in Egremont.

John Lynton Skeete, his wife Margaret Skeete and their son Lynton John Skeete appeared in court last month charged with various offences under Housing Act 2004.

At Wirral Magistrates Court, District Judge Sanders heard that the council had previously written to John Skeete of Riversdale Road, Wallasey on a number of occasions requesting that he apply for a licence for a privately rented flat on Egremont Promenade, Wallasey.

Following the repeated requests, Mr Skeete’ s family produced a lodger agreement to the council which was later found to be false in an attempt to avoid the requirement to obtain a licence for the rented flat owned by Mr Skeete.

As a result Mr Skeete, his wife and son were ordered to pay a total of £16,843 in fines and costs for failing to obtain a licence, failing to provide documents and providing false information.

The prosecution of Mr Skeete and his family is the latest case which has been brought before the courts by the Selective Licensing team and is the 22nd successful case against landlords and property managers who have failed to licence their properties.

Since Wirral Council’s current Selective Licensing Scheme was introduced on 1st July 2015, approximately 1,300 properties have been licenced, which represents over 99% of known licensable properties. 

The objectives of the scheme are to improve poor property conditions and improve management standards in the private rented sector. Licence holders are required to show basic safety checks have been carried out and that they have appropriate management arrangements in place. A further selective licencing scheme is due to commence in an additional four areas of the Wirral on 1st April 2019.

Cllr George Davies, Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety, said:  

“This action sends a clear message that the council wishes to work with good landlords to improve this sector and identify and take action against irresponsible or criminal landlords.

“The actions of Mr Skeete’s family in providing false documents to the council were a blatant attempt to mislead.

“The majority of landlords and managing agents who have obtained licences fully support what the Council is trying to achieve through the Selective Licensing Scheme. The private rented sector is the only option available for some of the most vulnerable people in the Wirral."