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Landlord Licensing Prosecutions

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What is Selective Landlord Licencing?

Selective licensing was introduced in 2006. The relevant law is covered by Sections 79, 80 and 81 of the Housing Act 2004. The underlying purpose was to try to force rogue landlords to clean up their acts and reduce socially unacceptable behaviour.

In areas where selective licensing applies, landlords must apply for a licence if they want to rent out a property.

This means the council can check whether they are a “fit or proper person” to be a landlord, as well as making other stipulations concerning management of the property and appropriate safety measures.

Offences and penalties

Failing to have a licence is a criminal offence and subject to an unlimited fine upon conviction.

Listed below are details of possible breaches:

  • It is an offence if the landlord or person in control of the property fails to apply for a licence and he/she is liable on summary conviction to an unlimited fine.
  • A licence holder who breaches any of the licence conditions is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5.
  • Overcrowding* – a landlord committing an offence of overcrowding is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale and to a further fine not exceeding one-tenth of the amount corresponding to that level in respect of every day subsequent to the day on which he is convicted on which the offence continues.
  • It is a criminal offence to obstruct the Local Authority in carrying out their functions under Parts 1 to 4 and sections 239 and 240 and is liable upon conviction a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.

Definition of overcrowding

*Under s.324 of the Housing Act 1985 a ‘dwelling’ (home) is overcrowded when the number of persons sleeping in the dwelling is such as to contravene:

  1. The standard specified in section 325 (the room standard), or
  2. The standard specified in section 326 (the space standard)

Consequences of non-licensing

The following are some of the consequences of non-licensing:

  • a landlord who is required to have a licence but does not, loses the right to automatic possession of the rented property under an assured shorthold lease under HA1988, s.21 (as amended s.75)
  • tenants may make an application to a Residential Property Tribunal for a Rent Repayment Order if the landlord has been convicted of the offence of operating a licensed property without a licence

What constitutes a defence?

There are three defences available to someone who does not have the requisite licence:

  • when there is a reasonable excuse for his failure (section 95(1))
  • A Notification had been duly given in respect of the house under section 62(1) or 86(1) (Temporary Exemption) or:
  • An application for a licence had been duly made in respect of the house under section 63, and that notification or application was still effective.

ABV Solicitors have an experienced and dedicated team of solicitors able to assist landlords/license holders. We have successfully represented landlords who have been prosecuted by local authorities for breaches of licenses.

Contact us for a consultation.

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