HMO Licensing Fines And Prosecutions For Landlords And Agents Go Live On The 6Th April
Introduction of new penalties for landlords
Local Authority licensing for rented property has been in place for a number of years. Any property which is defined as a House Multiple Occupation (HMO) requires a HMO licence, and Local Authorities are also able to implement their own additional or selective licensing.
If you do not have a licence which is required for your property, you will not be entitled to serve a Section 21 Notice on your tenant and you can be prosecuted in the criminal courts.
New powers for Local Authorities were introduced on 6 April 2017 which allow them to simply issue a fine up to £30,000 without needing to bring a prosecution. The fines can be issued against both landlords and letting agents.
The offences include:
- Failing to apply for a HMO/additional/selective licence;
- Breaching any licensing conditions attached to your HMO/additional/selective licence;
- Breaching the HMO Management Regulations;
- Breaching an enforcement notice served on you by the Local Authority in respect of housing improvement or overcrowding.
There may be a separate penalty issued for each separate offence.
The Local Authority will also be able to issue penalties if a landlord uses unlawful force to seek an eviction. This will clearly only apply to ‘rogue’ landlords but it is therefore critical that you ensure that you are using the correct procedure to obtain possession of properties – serving notice, issuing court proceedings, obtaining a possession order and, if the tenant will not leave, applying for a bailiff to attend the property.
The Local Authority will also now have the ability to apply for rent repayment orders in relation to any of these offences. A rent repayment order has historically only been available for a failure to have a licence in place. From today, if any of the above offences are committed you may be liable to pay back up to a year’s worth of rent to your tenant.
Landlords and agents will need therefore need to ensure that they have checked with the Local Authority whether any of their properties require licensing, and ensure that they comply with the conditions attached to their licence.