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.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to
Laura Albon has been working in litigation for nearly 10 years. She works almost exclusively with property investors and agents across the whole country. She trained with the partners of Helix Law and has extensive experience in possession, service charge recovery, breach of covenant and commercial contract claims. She is able to pursue matters through the court and through The First Tier Tribunal (formerly the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal or LVT).
This article is written to raise awareness of the issues it discusses and it may not be updated after it is first written, even if the law changes. It is not intended to be legal advice and cannot be relied on as such. Helix Law is not responsible or liable for any action taken or not taken as a result of this article. If you think the matters set out affect you and you wish to apply them to your particular circumstances then we are happy to give you free initial telephone advice