Penalties for housing offences
If we investigate and establish offences have been committed under housing legislation, including landlord and tenant law, the person responsible (normally the landlord, but could be a managing agent or tenant) can be liable to the following penalties:
We can impose civil penalties of up to £30,000 for certain housing offences. We use this money to fund further private rented housing enforcement.
The Government has produced detailed Civil Penalty Guidance which we must follow.
The City Executive Board adopted the Civil Penalties Protocol on 16 October 2017 (see item 85). This Protocol has been reviewed and can be found here. This is our policy for determining financial penalties.
Rent Repayment Orders
If you live in a rented house and your landlord has committed a relevant offence, then you may be able to claim the rent back via a Rent repayment order.
The Council can recover Housing Benefit paid to landlords who have committed offences to prevent them benefitting from their crimes.
In serious cases we will take landlords or agents to court and prosecute. If found guilty, the offender will have a criminal record and must pay a fine (unlimited for most housing offences), plus our investigation costs awarded by the court. Landlords can go to prison for illegal eviction and harassment of tenants. We may also seek a banning order.
If a landlord or letting agent is convicted in court of a so-called 'banning order offence', we can apply to the First-tier Tribunal for a banning order, prohibiting the landlord/agent from letting or managing any rental property in England. This ban must last a minimum of one year and they must find an independent manager for their properties. Breaching a banning order is a very serious offence.
'Rogue Landlords' Database
If a landlord/agent receives two or more financial penalties in the same year, or are convicted of a banning order offence, we can add them to a national database of 'rogue landlords'. If someone receives a banning order, we must add them to the rogue landlord database. This information is accessible to all councils across England to help authorities tackle criminal landlords operating across boundaries.
Where people have committed, or contravened, housing legislation then additional consequences may also apply:
Loss of Accreditation
If a landlord or agent is found to have committed any offences, or is found to not be abiding by the Landlord Accreditation Scheme Code of Management, we can revoke their accreditation. This means they will no longer be able to advertise themselves as accredited, nor will they be eligible to hold five-year or full-scheme HMO licences. These licences will be revoked and new applications will need to be made and new fees paid. These new licences will be issued for a maximum of one year initially.
Loss of Licence Holder's 'fit and proper' status
If someone has contravened any provision of the law relating to housing or of landlord and tenant law, then we will review whether they are a suitable person to hold a property licence. Similarly we will review their status if we discover someone has been convicted of any relevant offence or has practised unlawful discrimination. If we decide the Licence Holder is no longer 'fit and proper', they are no eligible to hold a property licence and must nominate someone independent to hold any property licences on their behalf for a specified period of time. If someone has been prosecuted, they will typically not be considered ‘fit and proper’ for five years. Landlords subject to banning orders cannot hold property licences.
Where we find unlicensed properties or the landlord cannot demonstrate the property has only just become a rented property, we charge a significantly higher licence application fee. If we have confidence in management concerns, for example if licence conditions have not been complied with, then licence holders must pay higher renewal fees.
Revocation of property licences
Where licence conditions have not been complied with, a licence holder is no longer fit and proper, or a number of other reasons, we can revoke licences and require new applications be made nominating a suitable licence holder. The applicant will be required to pay higher licence fees.
If the landlord is not considered fit and proper to hold the licence and they do not nominate a suitable alternative licence holder, then we have the power to make an Interim Management Order (IMO). This will transfer the management of the property to us for up to a year. During this time, we will collect the rent, carry out improvement works and manage the property, deducing our costs from the rental income. At the end of the IMO period, any rent left over is returned to the landlord. If still no suitable licence holder can be found, we can make a Final Management Order (FMO) which may last up to five years.
If a landlord/agent has received a banning order, they must find a suitable alternative manager for their properties. If we are not satisfied with the proposed management arrangements, we will make an IMO and in this case, keep all surplus rent rather than passing the profits to the banned landlord.