Investigations and prosecution
We represented a landlord at an interview under caution, whereby the local authority were alleging that the landlord had failed to obtain a selective licence for the property. The landlord admitted the offence and we advised the landlord on the most appropriate course of action to take in respect of the interview. Our involvement resulted in the local authority issuing a caution as opposed to a civil penalty or pursing a prosecution.
We represented a manager at an interview under caution, whereby the local authority were alleging that our client had managed a property and was responsible for failing to licence the property and comply with the management regulations. We advised the manager on their legal position in relation to the alleged offences and the most appropriate course of action to take in respect of the interview. The local authority took no further action.
We represented a landlord at an interview under caution, whereby the local authority were alleging that the landlord had failed to obtain the correct licence for the property and had breached several management regulations. The landlord admitted the offence and we advised the landlord on the most appropriate course of action to take in respect of the interview. The local authority subsequently took no further action.
We represented an agent who was being prosecuted for their involvement in running a HMO property without a licence and a breach in regulations. We were able to persuade the local authority to withdraw the prosecution proceedings against the agent on the basis that they were considered not to be responsible for the management of the property at the time of the alleged offences.
We represented a landlord who was being prosecuted by the local authority for a number of offences, relating to a number of HMO properties. The landlord pleaded guilty to the offences and we put forward mitigation on his behalf. As a result, a significantly lower financial penalty was imposed.
We were instructed to represent a landlord who had been issued with a £30,000 financial penalty as a result of a failure to license a HMO property. A penalty of £30,000 is the maximum amount that can be issued to a landlord for an offence and should be reserved for the most serious offenders. However, in this instance the offence itself had only been committed for a short period of time, the landlord was not significantly experienced, and it was a genuine error. We made representations to the local authority on the basis that the penalty was wholly disproportionate given the circumstances and that they had failed to have regarded to the governments overarching guidance. The local authority reduced the penalty to £12,000.
We acted for a landlord who had been issued with two financial penalties as a result of a failure to obtain a HMO licence and a failure to comply with the HMO management regulations. The fines were £6,900 and £14,446, therefore totalling £21,346. We made representations to the local authority on the basis that the penalty was unreasonable given that the landlord was not a commercial landlord, had genuinely been unaware of the licensing rules, and had personal financial issues that meant that they could not afford the financial penalty. The local authority agreed to reduce the penalties to £2,000 and £6,000, making a total financial penalty of £8,000.
Our specialist HMO lawyers were instructed to represent a two individuals who were the landlords of a property and had each been issued with a civil penalty for a failure to comply with the management regulations. The penalties combined totalled £19,500. We made representations to the local authority on the basis that they had assessed the level of culpability of the landlords incorrectly and had failed to have due regard to their mitigation. The landlords had immediately taken corrective measures to address the concerns raised, were not commercial landlords, and were suffering from financial hardship which impacted upon their ability to pay. The local authority agreed to reduce the banding of culpability and also took into consideration the mitigating factors put forward. The financial penalties were reduced to a total of £5,750.
Our specialist HMO lawyers represented a property management agent in respect of a notice of intent to issue a financial penalty of £15,000, which they had received from their local authority. The notice had been issued on the basis that the local authority considered that the agent had committed an offence under Section 72(1) of the Housing Act 2004 by having control of or managing a house in multiple occupation which is required to be licensed, but is not so licensed. Whilst the agent accepted that the offence had been committed, we submitted representations to the local authority on behalf of the agent that the financial penalty suggested was disproportionate and unreasonable given the circumstances surrounding the offence and the agent’s mitigating factors. We submitted that the council had placed the offence within the incorrect band for the purposes of calculating the fine, on the basis that a number of factors under the local authority’s guidance had not been applied appropriately. The local authority considered our proposal of appropriateness and the fine was reduced accordingly to a ‘medium’ severity score. The local authority accepted our representations to bring the fine in line with what is considered proportionate and as a result, the fine was reduced from £15,000 to £4,000.
Rent repayment orders
Recent examples of our involvement with rent repayment orders (RRO) includes:
Representing a landlord in the first-tier tribunal in relation to a rent repayment order, whereby the tenants had made an application for a 12 month repayment of rent which totalled almost £40,000. Our involvement resulted in the landlord receiving a rent repayment order totalling two months’ rent.
Representing a landlord that had been notified of a RRO application by their previous tenants. We advised the landlord on their legal position, engaged in settlement negotiations, and settled the case without the need for a tribunal hearing. This avoided a finding being made against the landlord that an offence had been committed and protected the landlords reputation;
Representing an agent that had been included as a respondent to RRO proceedings. We advised the agent on their legal position, engaged in settlement negotiations, and settled the case without the need for a tribunal hearing. This avoided a finding being made against the agent that an offence had been committed and protected the agent’s reputation.