Penalties under the Housing Act 2004 and associated legislation can be extreme including unlimited fines, banning orders, rent repayment orders, confiscation of goods/property under the Proceeds of Crime Act, and even imprisonment.
The system of penalties under the Housing Act 2004 were reviewed and modified by the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which amongst other things introduced the new concept (for housing) of “fixed penalty notices” – a civil penalty (up to £30000) that can be issued instead of criminal legal proceedings that are more time consuming and costly to adminster. Appeals are possible to the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber – Residential Property) (FTT).
For local authorities the civil penalties scheme provided a much more cost effective means to deal with legal infringements. The penalties issued must be commensurate with the level of offence and follow a council policy with a “matrix” indicating the fine levels and reasoning. Click here to view an example matrix.
Letting a licensable HMO without a licence is an offence and can result in unlimited fines (often in the range of £10,000-£40000) or the civil penalty as an alternative to prosecution. The penalties apply to any person(s)/company(s) having control and/or managing the property.
Landlords who operate a licensable HMO without a licence may also, in certain cases, have to repay rent – known as a Rent Repayment Order (RRO). This applies to rent paid by tenants or by local authorities in housing benefit during a maximum 12 month period. An RRO is awarded by the FTT on application.
Anyone failing to comply with licence conditions placed on them or breaches any of the HMO Management Regulations commits an offence which could result in a fine of up to £5,000 per offence or an alternative civil penalty.
Prosecutions for offences would take place in the Magistrates’ Court.
What About Appeals?
All appeals against decisions made by local councils regarding HMO licences, notices served, and civil penalties issued are made to the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber – Residential Property)