3 May 2019

A buy to let investor has been left with a £2,000 bill and a criminal conviction after letting out his property without the appropriate licence.

Anthony Bellingham was prosecuted by a council in County Durham us for breaching the requirements of a licensing scheme in the Easington Colliery area.

Local magistrates heard the council received information last May suggesting that a property within the licensing area which had been rented out since November 2017, had changed ownership.

A letter was sent to the new owner, Bellingham who lives near Girona in Spain, advising him to apply for a licence within 28 days.

The court was told Bellingham phoned the council to say he was out of the country until the end of the August, resulting in him being e-mailed to allow him to apply while abroad.

The council claims that over the next two months, e-mails and letters were sent to the defendant, reminding him he needed a licence. Magistrates were told Bellingham did not seek one and so was prosecuted for not having a licence.

The defendant did not attend the hearing or write to the court, and magistrates fined him £1,500 and ordered him to pay £350 costs and a victim surcharge of £150.

A council spokesman says: “Selective licensing transforms areas by improving the standard of housing for entire neighbourhoods. It leads to more reliable, longer term tenancies; higher quality and safer housing standards; reduced levels of homelessness; and increased property and rent values which in turn helps create greater community cohesion. It offers landlords help to deal with problem residents and access to a scheme through which they can vet prospective tenants. However, it only works if landlords cooperate.”

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