Are the authorities losing patience with landlords and imposing higher landlord fines?
For a long time now it has become apparent that fines imposed on rogue landlords, or those simply in ignorance of the law, have been pretty paltry. This has become so much so that some landlords, seemingly unconcerned that they may be labelled with a criminal record, have been treating fines and prosecutions as a usual business expense.
However, following this spate of new cases arising in October, it would seem that the courts (and these are in the main magistrates courts) are waking up to the fact that something needs to be done about these issues and are imposing much higher fines on landlords.
Responsible landlords and the landlord associations have long been calling for more action against rogue landlords, which give the vast majority of law abiding landlords such a bad name.
However, part of the problem, the authorities argue, is the sheer difficulty (time and resources needed) in bringing these offenders to justice. This has prompted the government to consider “blacklisting” rogue landlords in forthcoming legislation. Of the 12 cases we have reported here, fines and costs totalling £656,000 have been imposed.
- John Mayer and Plymouth landlord was fined £20,000 plus costs for letting an unsafe HMO property to 30 people without an HMO licence.
- Two Hounslow HMO landlords Palminder Singh Sanghera and Nirmal Kaur were fined £36,000 with costs for housing 30 tenants in five unsafe properties in Ellerdine Road, Hounslow.
- Syed Junid Ul Hassan Shah was found guilty at Basildon Magistrates Court for letting tenants occupy an unsafe outbuilding in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex and have been fined nearly £6,000 plus costs for failing to licence the property at 53 Glenwood Avenue, Westcliff-on-Sea as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).
- A Reading landlord has been fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £3,343 costs and a victim surcharge of £120 after being prosecuted by Reading Borough Council. Hafiz Mohammed Gulfraz, 43, admitted running an HMO without a licence, breaching a prohibition order, and intentionally disrupting the gas and electricity supply to the property as well as a string of other safety breaches.
- Another HMO landlord without a licence, Javaid Lone, who had 15 tenants in his County View Guest House in County Road, Swindon, pleaded guilty to 13 safety breaches of housing regulations at Swindon Magistrates’ Court and was fined more than £16,000 plus costs for cramming too many tenants into the converted guesthouse.
- A Bedford landlord was fined £265 plus £865 costs for having a faulty gas appliance in his rental property. Ashby Bedeau admitted breaching Regulation 36(2)(a) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
- A Birmingham landlord Ayoub Yakoob, of Morden in Surrey was fined £6,400 and ordered to pay £3,696 costs and a £120 victim surcharge at Birmingham Magistrates Court for letting an HMO without a licence and breaching HMO safety regulations.
- Yakoob’s letting agent Mohammed Shehzad, who also goes under the name of Ashsard Khan, was fined £450 with £150 costs and a victim surcharge of £20 after pleading guilty to nine breaches of the HMO management regulations.
- An Oxford landlord, Riasat Ali was fined £180 for unlawfully evicting his tenant and £300 for harassment against the tenant with £1,000 costs by Oxford magistrates.
- Gilbert Garrick a London landlord who let an unsafe property at West Norwood in south London that he had converted into flats without planning permission was fined more than £400,000. Garrick was given three months to pay in full or face a jail term.
- Zakaria Rmiki, a Watford landlord was fined £2,500 and ordered to pay £5,250 towards costs for running an unsafe HMO without a licence after appearing at Stevenage Magistrate Court.
- A North London landlord was fined more than £200,000 by Harrow Crown Court for illegally converting two Brent properties into flats without planning permission and ignoring enforcement notices sent to him by Brent Council. Vijay Kara from Hendon rented out properties on Strode Road, Willesden, which did not meet the council’s safety standards. Kara faced criminal proceedings for failure to comply with the notices which required him to restore the properties to their original condition. Pleading guilty and on 29 October 2015 he was served a confiscation order of £187,600 for both properties, fined £10,000 and also ordered to pay costs of £10,000 by Harrow Crown Court.
Blacklisting and banning rogue landlords
There is to be a new criminal offence targeted at unscrupulous landlords and agents who repeatedly fail to conduct the “right to rent” checks or fail to take steps to remove illegal immigrants from their property. These landlords may face a fine, up to 5 years imprisonment and further sanctions under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
New legislation is to create a “blacklist” of persistent rogue landlords and letting agents. This aims to help councils focus their enforcement action on where it is most needed, and keep track of those who have been convicted of housing offences. And new measures will prevent a landlord or letting agent from renting out of properties if they are repeat offenders. Other measures include:
- a new tougher fit and proper person test for landlords of properties that have to be licenced, to ensure they do not pose a risk to the welfare or safety of tenants
- extending Rent Repayment Orders so local authorities can claim back rent payments from landlords who abuse the Housing Benefit system by failing to ensure the property is maintained to a good standard
- enabling local authorities to issue penalty notices for certain civil offences, with the money retained by the council and used for housing purposes
- permitting the sharing of Tenancy Deposit Protection data to help councils crack down on rogue landlords who knowingly rent out unsafe and overcrowded accommodation
- enabling landlords to recover abandoned properties more quickly without the need to go to court.
New measures to crackdown on illegal immigrants renting properties – see here
Update: Landlord Fines Total Nearly £1,000,000 in October – https://t.co/SnMDrF18az
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) November 16, 2015
Landlord Fines Total Nearly £700,000 in October – https://t.co/SnMDrF18az
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) November 16, 2015