Fines for agents and landlords in Greater London have totalled more than £1.5 million in the last 12 months, as part of a wider pattern of increased enforcement of complex Private Rented Sector regulations.
With increasing headlines on the subject of Rent Repayment Orders, a heavier focus on Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, and with more licensing schemes than ever before, it is perhaps not surprising that fines have increased by £1.5 million in the past 12 months to cross the £8 million mark for the first time.
In this article we will look at some recent examples of increased council enforcement around the UK and provide an update of rogue landlord and agent fines trends.
So what are some examples of recent council enforcement efforts?
‘Name and shame’ landlords and agents
Earlier this year, the government announced that, as a part of its ongoing mission to reform the Private Rented Sector, ministers are now set to ‘name and shame’ failing landlords both on the Government’s website and social media channels. The government will highlight poor practice by landlords and will include published findings by the Housing Ombudsman of severe maladministration and judgements of the Regulator of Social Housing that consumer standards have been breached.
In addition, the Secretary of State will, where appropriate, contact landlords to understand how they are taking steps to address the findings in less severe cases before publishing it on site and social media. For landlords and agents in the UK, this is yet another reason for why keeping on top of regulatory compliance, including licensing requirements, is so important.
Trading standard authorities join forces to carry out project to identify rogue agents
Fourteen Trading Standards authorities across England are embarking on an enforcement project to check lettings agency compliance. The Central England Trading Standards Authorities group, which represents 14 authorities, has won funding to carry out the project; this will involve working jointly with housing officers from local councils, with support from the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agents Team. A similar project began in London in 2020 and found hundreds of letting agents non-compliant with these requirements. Significant non-compliances resulted in fines of up to £30,000.
Sussex crackdown of unlicensed HMOs
Arun District Council could impose tougher rules on landlords who convert and rent out HMOs. The council’s Environment Committee was recently asked to approve initial funding of £80,000 for new staff and a consultation exercise to crack down on unlicensed properties. It is estimated that there are more than 100 HMOs that are being run without the required licence and the council wants to impose new rules in the three wards where they are most common.
New extensive licensing scheme in Leicester
Landlords and agents in six areas of Leicester will have to comply with a new extensive licensing scheme following a council vote. The fee for the selective licensing scheme will be between £1,000 and £1,150 for five years, making it the costliest scheme in the Midlands.
Manchester council is increasing enforcement and handing out massive fines
Manchester council has been getting tougher both with property inspections and in terms of handing out more fines. For example, it was recently found that out of a sample of 177 properties in a suburb in Manchester, nearly one fifth of all properties were found to have serious hazards. The council’s licensing scheme currently covers seven areas, while eight more will be added in spring next year.
Camden continues to be the most active enforcer in London
Kamma’s data shows that Camden is the most active local authority in London when it comes to enforcement. For example, just a few months ago a letting agency in the inner London area of Camden was made the subject of an anti-social behaviour injunction and banning order, and was ordered to pay £80,000 in fines.
Belvoir franchisee falls foul of regulator in Nottingham
Belvoir property managers were fined £1,700 last month for operating an unlicensed and mismanaged HMO in Nottingham. Kamma’s data shows this fine is smaller than the average. Last August the average fine for letting agents was £4,380, now a year later Kamma has reported an increase of 7%, taking the average agent fine to £4,690.
Kamma automatically monitors the UK’s property licensing landscape and helps letting agents and landlords identify what licence is required for their property as well as to help with the licensing application process. We leverage technology and data to help agents and landlords stay on top of new property licensing schemes and avoid licensing fines.
To learn more about rogue landlord fines and licensing enforcement, subscribe to Kamma’s monthly Licensing Update. Or get in touch with the team at email@example.com to learn more about Kamma’s services
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