Landlords face £30,000 fines without a Court Prosecution

Two changes under the Housing & Planning Act come into force in April with the widening of Rent Repayment Orders and new Fixed Penalty Notices.  There is concern that landlords could be fined up to £30,000 without a court prosecution, be made to repay rent without a prosecution but still have to wait to evict tenants who may be in arrears or causing damage to their property.

Rent Repayment Orders can be issued for failure to apply for an HMO Licence; breach of a Local Authority licence condition; use of unlawful force to evict a tenant; non-compliance of HMO management regulation and breach of an HHSRS Enforcement Notice.

The Orders are produced by a Tribunal on the application of a Local Authority or tenant. The Tribunal must have clear evidence of a breach but the landlord does not have to be prosecuted through the courts.  This gives rise to a situation where a Local Authority or tenant can request a Rent Repayment Order even though the landlord has not been prosecuted for any offence.

The new Fixed Penalties gives Local Authorities the power to apply fines of up to £30,000 for any offence under the Housing Act 2004 or any of the above breaches without the need to prosecute.  A landlord could be fined up to £30,000 for each offence if there are multiple, 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, landlords will have a further 28 days to appeal to the Tribunal.

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