Law guide: Landlords

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Penalising bad landlords and letting agents (England)

Penalising bad landlords and letting agents (England)

Contents

The government has passed a number of laws that punish landlords and letting agents in England who have been convicted of certain criminal offences.

Banning orders

Local housing authorities (LHAs) can apply to the First-tier Tribunal for a banning order against letting agents or landlords who have been convicted of a 'banning order offence' committed after 6 April 2018. The offences include failing to comply with an improvement notice, letting to someone who doesn't have a right to rent (see Right to rent check and references) because of their immigration status and being convicted of unlawful eviction.

See Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Banning Order Offences) Regulations for a full list of banning order offences.

If granted, the banning order will prevent the landlord/letting agent from:

  • Letting any property they own in England.
  • Engaging in letting agency work or property management work in England.
  • Doing two or more of the above.

Obtaining a banning order

To apply for a banning order the LHA must first give you a notice within 6 months of a banning order offence that states:

  • They are proposing to apply for a banning order and the reasons why.
  • The length of each proposed ban.
  • That you can make representations within a minimum period of 28 days (which must be considered by the LHA before a deciding if the banning order should be made).

If the LHA decides to continue, it must apply to the First-tier Tribunal who must consider the following before making a banning order:

  • The seriousness of the banning order offence.
  • Any previous banning order offence convictions.
  • If you are or have previously been included on the database of rogue landlords and letting agents.

Penalty for breaching a banning order

If a banning order is breached you will be guilty of a criminal offence and could be imprisoned for up to 51 weeks, and/or be fined.

If you then continue to breach a banning order you will be liable to a further fine for each day or part of a day that the breach lasts, unless there is a reasonable excuse for the breach continuing.

Instead of a criminal conviction, the LHA may impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 if it decides, beyond reasonable doubt, that you have breached a banning order.

The LHA must first give you a notice within 6 months of breaching a banning order or, in the case of continued breaches, within 6 months of the last day that the continued breach took place.

Database of rogue landlords and letting agents

The government has created a database of rogue landlords and letting agents in England who have been convicted of a banning order or a 'banning order offence' committed after 6 April 2018. These will be kept up to date by the Local Housing Authority (LHA). See Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Banning Order Offences) Regulations for a full list of banning order offences.

The content of the database will be used by the LHA for various purposes including when investigating breaches of housing law by a landlord and letting agents.

You'll qualify to be put on the database if you have:

  • received a banning order;
  • been convicted of a banning order offence and you were a landlord/letting agent at the time the offence was committed; or
  • received 2 or more financial penalties for a banning order offence in the last 12 months.

Prior to being convicted of a banning order offence you should be given a decision notice. This must be given within 6 months of:

  • being convicted of the banning order offence; or
  • receiving the second of the financial penalties.

The decision notice must inform you:

  • that you will be included on the database 21 days from the date of the decision notice;
  • how long you will remain on the database; and
  • of your right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal about your inclusion on the database or the time it will be maintained for.

An appeal must be made within the 21 days before your inclusion on the database and the LHA cannot include you on it until the appeal process has ended.

Rent repayment orders

The First-tier Tribunal can make a rent repayment order (RRO) requiring a landlord to repay up to 12 months' rent to their tenant, where it is satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the landlord has done one of the following:

  • Failed to comply with an improvement notice or a prohibition order under the Housing Act 2004.
  • Failed to obtain a licence for a house in multiple occupation or a property in an area subject to the selective licensing regime (see Overview of registration and licensing).
  • Breached the term of a banning order.

Applications for a rent repayment order

A tenant can apply for an RRO (with or without help from their LHA) if:

  • the offence happened when the property was let to them; and
  • the application is made within 12 months of the offence being committed.

The LHA can also apply where the offence relates to housing in the LHA's area. It must serve you with a notice before starting a claim in a First-tier Tribunal. The notice must be given within 12 months of the date the offence was committed and state why it is applying for an RRO, how much rent it wants to recover and give no less than 28 days for you to make a statement to the LHA (which it must consider).

For more information on RROs, see the Guidance on rent repayment orders under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.