HOW WILL THIS AFFECT LANDLORDS?
From 6 April 2017 the Housing and Planning Act will come into force which will widen Rent Repayment Orders and provide new fixed penalty notices.
From 6 April 2017, a Local Authority or Tenant can apply to the First Tier Tribunal for a Rent Repayment Order. This can be applied for the following reasons: –
1. Failure to apply for an HMO Licence
2. Breach of a Local Authority Licence condition
3. Use of unlawful force to evict a Tenant
4. Non compliance of an HMO Management Regulation
5. Breach of an HHSRS Enforcement Notice
The Tribunal must have clear evidence that a Landlord has breached one or more of the above conditions. The Landlord does not have to be prosecuted through the Courts and therefore a Local Authority or Tenant can request a Rent Repayment Order even though a Landlord has not been prosecuted for any offence.
The Local Authority therefore will have the power to apply fines of up to £30,000.00 for any offence under the Housing Act 2004 or one of the above conditions without the need to prosecute. A Landlord can be fined up to £30,000.00 for each offence if there are multiple breaches but they cannot all be for the maximum amount.
Landlords will have 28 days to appeal the Fixed Penalty which the Local Authority will have to consider and then issue a Final Decision Notice. Following this Final Decision Notice, Landlords will then have a further 28 days to appeal the First Tier Tribunal.
This may not well apply to most Landlords, but what if, for example, a Tenant sublets the property so that it becomes a HMO without the Landlords knowledge? This also puts the power of penalising Landlords into the hands of the Local Authority without the due process of law of proceeding through a Court (notwithstanding the Landlords right of appeal). It also would seem unfair that the Landlord would have to repay rent if his Tenant is in arrears or is causing damage to the property. There is also no confirmation as to whether the Local Authorities are geared up for this and whether they have the funding to proceed with said Orders or will apply the law correctly.
It therefore remains to be seen as to how this will proceed after 6 April 2017 and one can only consider once Landlords are brought before the Tribunal.
For further information, please contact 0800 088 6004