Landlord fines: 4 big penalties for unlawful landlords


Landlords have the responsibility to keep their Tenants safe as well as abide by the rules of the law. There are many rules and regulations that landlords need to follow, however, many choose not to and some are simply unaware of the consequences.

So, if you’re thinking of renting out a property, here are some of the main obligations you need to follow, as well as some real penalties that have been issued to landlords to remind you of the consequences of not complying with the law…

1. Health and Safety Obligations

It is imperative for landlords to keep their properties safe for tenants and free from health hazards. For landlords to make sure their property complies with health and safety law they must carry out frequent risk assessments. If the assessment finds any hazardous risks, it is the landlords duty to correct them in order to keep the property safe.

These include:

  • Gas safety: Making sure gas equipment is installed correctly and maintained regularly by a registered engineer.
  • Electric safety: Ensuring that the electrical systems installed in the property are safe and all appliances are PAT (portable appliance testing) tested by a qualified and registered electrician.
  • Fire safety: Making sure the property has clear access to escape routes at all times. Installing fire extinguishers and smoke alarms on every storey and carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with fuel-burning appliances. If the property is furnished, the furniture must be fire safe.

Poor Health and Safety Consequences

If someone is injured or dies as a result of negligent health and safety within the property, landlords could receive unlimited fines and even prosecution.

There have been recent stories in the press regarding landlords that fail to comply with basic health and safety standards resulting in fines of £34,000.

2. Housing Quality Obligations

Whilst landlords are not obliged to provide tenants with an aesthetically pleasing property, they do however need to ensure that the property is fit for purpose. This mainly consists of meeting the above health and safety standards but also includes a few other areas.

Rental properties with inadequate heating, damp and mould, inadequate food and personal hygiene facilities are deemed as unfit for purpose.

A HMO (house in multiple occupation) is a large property that houses 3 or more tenants. It is illegal for landlords to rent out their property to large numbers of people if there are not enough adequate bedrooms and facilities for each tenant. This is considered as overcrowding.

Poor Housing Quality Consequences

If landlords do not make their property fit for purpose or are found guilty of renting the property out to too many people, they could be faced with thousands of pounds in fines and risk jail time.

A landlord in Wembley, London was found guilty of over-crowding his property with 28 tenants living in ‘squalid conditions’ was fined £39,540.

3. Landlord Building Regulation Obligations

Any material changes within a property, such as converting a house into flats or adding an extension, require planning permission.

The rules regarding permission varies for flats, houses and HMO’s (houses in multiple occupations) and it is the landlords’ duty to seek out and abide by the laws in their area. A HMO property also needs a license from the council before tenants can move in.

Breaching Building Regulation Consequences

A landlord carried out a conversion on his property without obtaining planning permission and failed to comply with an enforcement notice issued by the local Council.

Local authorities can recover the proceeds from criminal activity in certain circumstances under the POCA (proceeds of crime act) and in this case, the landlord was fined £1.4million.

4. Landlord Eviction Obligations

Sometimes, disputes can arise between tenants and landlords resulting in the landlord evicting the tenant. However, there is an eviction process that landlords must follow.

Landlords must give the tenant a minimum of two months’ written notice of eviction (known as a Section 21) and a court order. Only a bailiff is legally allowed to evict a tenant providing they have a court warrant to do so.

Illegal Eviction Consequences

In some cases, landlords try to skip the required eviction steps and take the law into their own hands by changing the locks on a property. This is illegal and deemed a criminal offense. Landlords that evict tenants illegally could face a fine or a jail term and the evicted tenant could be due compensation.

A landlord was prosecuted and fined £3,700 for evicting a tenant illegally by giving the tenant just a few days notice to vacate the property before changing the locks.

Are you thinking of becoming a landlord and renting out a property to tenants? You may want to check out our Guide To Becoming A Landlord first.

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