Landlords operating good-quality and well managed rented properties and who are of good character should fight unfair council fines for failing to licence properties, an unusual case has shown.
A virtual Tribunal hearing of landlord Chris Knight’s appeal against a £7,500 fine for non-compliance with the London Borough of Hackney’s selective licensing scheme saw judges reduce his fine to £2,400 after he argued that it was ‘too high’ at eight times the licencing scheme’s application fee, and that he operated the property at a loss after no increasing the rent since 2017.
Although the judges disagreed with these arguments, and Knight’s further point that he should have been warned that a fine was pending and that he wasn’t’ told Hackney operated a licencing scheme, he won a substantial reduction.
The saga began in March 2022 when council officers discovered during door-to-door enquiries that his two-bedroom apartment in Stoke Newington, North London (pictured), had not been licenced.
Knight was told that a £7,500 fine would be payable but after he made representations, this was reduced to £5,000 as long as he applied for a licence within 28 days, which he did.
But the landlord, who represented himself at the Tribunal, held his nerve and appealed the fine, and the Tribunal has now reduced it.
This includes £1,000 in ‘mitigation’, a £2,000 reduction for the good condition of the property and his ‘good character’, a £1,000 reduction for applying for a licence promptly and a further reduction for his cooperation. If he now pays the fine promptly it will be reduced by 20% further, taking it to £2,400.