Landlord fines: Big penalties for unlawful landlords

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Written By PeterLogan

Founded by a collective of barristers, solicitors, and academic legal experts, PreferLaw began as a conversation over how to bridge the gap between legal professionals and the lay public.





Landlords have the responsibility of assuring tenant safety while also adhering to all relevant laws and regulations; unfortunately, however, many landlords decide not to comply and some do not even know the consequences.

If you’re considering renting an apartment, here are the most essential obligations and sanctions that have been placed on landlords to remind them of their legal responsibilities…

Health and Safety Obligations

Landlords must make their property safe for tenants and free from dangers to health. To comply with health and safety law, landlords should conduct frequent risk assessments of their premises to detect any dangers that might threaten tenants’ health and wellbeing. Should these assessments identify any threats, the landlord has the responsibility of rectifying them immediately to keep tenants safe on the premises.

These include:

Gas Safety: Always make sure that gas equipment is safely installed and maintained by an engineer who is registered.
Safety of Electrical System: Ensuring the electrical systems within a building are safe, and every appliance undergoes portable appliance testing (PAT testing) from an experienced and licensed electrician is critical.
Fire Safety: Make sure the building provides access to escape routes throughout the day, install fire extinguishers and smoke alarms on each storey, and place carbon monoxide alarms near any appliances that use fuel sources in rooms with burning appliances. Furthermore, furniture must also be protected from potential fire hazards.

Poor Health and Safety Consequences

If someone is injured due to lack of security or health issues at a rental property, landlords could face unlimited fines and prosecution.

Recently there have been reports in the news about landlords failing to meet basic health and safety requirements, leading them to face fines of more than £34,000.

Housing Quality Obligations

Landlords don’t need to provide tenants with appealing properties; rather, they must ensure the rental units meet all necessary health and safety regulations as well as other considerations.

Properties without heating systems, mold and damp issues, inadequate food preparation facilities or personal sanitation amenities, are considered unsuitable for use and should not be considered suitable for human habitation.

An HMO (house with multiple occupancy) is defined as any residential property which houses at least three tenants, though any more may occupy it illegally as overcrowding may occur in such properties.

Poor Housing Quality Consequences

If landlords fail to ensure their properties meet all standards or are found guilty of renting them out to too many tenants, they could face stiff fines and jail time as a result.

One landlord from Wembley, London was found guilty of overcrowding in his home with 28 tenants living under unsanitary conditions and was fined £39540 for doing so.

Landlord Building Regulation Obligations

Any major modifications, such as turning a flat into a house or adding an extension, require planning approval and require permission from authorities.

Rules regarding permissions vary for houses, flats and HMO’s (houses with multiple occupations). Landlords have an obligation to research and comply with laws in their local area before renting out HMO properties to tenants. An HMO property also needs a permit from their local council before being allowed into operation.

Breaching Building Regulation Consequences

One landlord attempted a property conversion without planning permission and failed to adhere to an enforcement notice from his town Council.

Under certain conditions, local authorities are authorized to recover proceeds of criminal activity through POCA (Proceeds of Crime Act). Here, a landlord was penalized an amount equivalent to £1.4 million as per POCA law.

Landlord Eviction Obligations

Sometimes there can be disputes between landlords and tenants that necessitate expulsion of tenants from the premises by their landlords, who must follow a specific eviction procedure to effectively manage this process.

Landlords must provide tenants with at least two months’ written notice before initiating any form of expulsion along with a court order to expel them. Bailiffs are authorized by law to take steps towards expulsion should an order from a judge exist for expulsion proceedings to occur.

Illegal Eviction Consequences

At times, landlords attempt to bypass proper eviction processes by changing locks on their properties in an unlawful and criminal manner – this violation may incur fines or jail terms; while any tenants evicted illegally could receive compensation.

An owner was fined £3,700 after breaking the law by giving his tenant only two days’ notice to vacate before altering the lock on his property.