SLUM landlords could be fined up to £30,000 by Castle Point Council in a bid to stop heartless owners forcing people to choose between squalid conditions or eviction.

Castle Point Council’s cabinet will discuss the use of civil penalty powers under the Housing and Planning Act tomorrow.

Rogue landlords include those who make threats to evict if residents complain or run houses where they rent rooms individually without the correct license.

The council could choose to apply the new powers which include rent payment orders to cover illegal evictions or banning orders for the most serious offenders taking away their ability to rent.

A database would also be created of rogue landlords and property agents whom a banning order has been made against with the option for the council to stop doing business with them.

The report states: “Castle Point Council wants to support good landlords who provide decent, well maintained homes and target the small number of rogue or criminal landlords that knowingly rent out unsafe and substandard accommodation.

“Civil penalties are designed to act as punishment to the offender, deter others and remove any financial benefit the offender may have obtained as a result of committing the offence.”

Other councils have been criticised for failing to take sufficient action against rogue landlords.

In July last year, Southend Council voted against a licensing proposal which could have seen up to 20,000 private landlords pay £1,000 for a license to rent out their properties, with the council having the power to revoke licences if a landlord was not acting ethically.

However, Conservative councillors voted against exploring this and instead agreed on an option that involves less strict enforcement and no major policy adjustment, which was strongly criticised by Labour councillors at the time.

Castle Point Council officers believe civil penalties would act as a stronger deterrent.

The report states: “The act gives local housing authorities alternative enforcement options to issue a penalty notice for non-compliance rather than taking a prosecution in court, which can be time consuming and expensive.

“The provisions don’t replace the option for prosecution, but it is expected that prosecution would be reserved primarily for serious cases.”