Changes to Procedures and Penalties for Landlords

It has been confirmed that the Government will be implementing new procedures and penalties that will apply to Landlords across England as of the 6th April These new developments include changes to the processes involved in fining or prosecuting Landlords for not complying with the rules and regulations in place. This will be achieved by bringing into force various provisions of the Housing and Planning Act 2016

What can be expected?
Landlords will now be open to being issued with civil penalty notices of anything up to £30,000, as opposed to going through a prosecution process. The process will involve landlords receiving a ‘notice of intent to serve penalty’ where they will be given 28 days to build their defence. After this period the Landlord will have a further 28 days to pay the fine, or appeal to the first-tier tribunal.

As a Landlord, you can make yourself vulnerable to a civil penalty by:
• Failing to comply with an improvement notice
• HMO licencing offences
• Selective Licencing offences
• Failing to comply with an overcrowding notice
• Breach of HMO Management

There will also be changes to rent repayment orders. Even though tenants and local authorities already have ability to apply for rent repayment orders from Landlords, this can now be implemented whether they have been convicted of the offence, or not.

Initially, tenants and local authorities would apply for repaying rent where a Landlord is renting out an unlicensed property. But, as of April 6th, the grounds of applying for a rent repayment order will also be extended to include the following areas:

• Violence for securing entry
• Illegal eviction and harassment
• Failure to comply with improvement notice
• Failure to comply with prohibition order
• Unlicensed HMO
• Unlicensed House (Selective Licensing)

The Effects
Until further information is released from the government we are still none the wiser as to how these will be implemented and carried out by local authorities, however, with many new developments in the housing industry, they usually come with some unpredictable outcomes.

Hopefully, we will see an improvement in the quality of our Landlords and their provided rental accommodation to new tenants as these measures will certainly provide tenants and local authorities with the tools and power to crack down on criminal Landlords.

We could see a rise in tenants who are knowledgeable of the rules and regulations a Landlord has to comply with, taking on their own Landlords through to appear in a first-tier tribunal for rent repayment orders. Subsequently, this could lead to a number of amateur Landlords being caught out through unintentional mistakes making it paramount to be well educated in the industry or use a high quality letting agency.

There should also be signs of improvement across council’s Housing Enforcement as from the civil penalties, councils will be entitled to keep the money to use for further funding and investment within these operations. This will generate a new revenue stream for councils to support the development and support of their Housing Enforcement sectors, once again, helping crack down on rogue Landlords. On the other hand, this could also lead to councils exploiting Landlords through the handing out of notices and fining Landlords as an easy form of further income.

Alas, until further information is released from the government informing how this will be rolled out across England, you will have to watch this space.

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