In one case in 2020 Portsmouth City Council Enforcement officers fined both a landlord and a large local lettings agency in Portsmouth £6,000 each, after being made aware that 12 unrelated individuals were living at a property which had no HMO (house in multiple occupation) licence.
Whilst the landlord accepted and paid the fine, the agency took the decision to appeal the fine. When the appeal was heard the court supported the council’s action but also decided that the council had been too lenient, increasing the agencies level of fine to £12,000.
All rental properties that are HMO’s are required to be licenced and comply with mandatory HMO management regulations.
Landlords and agents must take their legal responsibilities seriously. As well as making sure they have a property licence in place, landlords and agents should make sure that they are keeping up to date, and complying with all of the relevant regulations.
Landlords and agents have a range of responsibilities, including keeping properties safe and free from hazards, making sure all gas and electrical equipment is tested and maintained, and protecting tenant’s deposits in a government approved scheme.
The council has powers to issue substantial fines of up to £30,000 per offence for non-compliance with legal responsibilities.
The council’s housing enforcement officers issued £38,500 in fines to rogue landlords and agents caught breaking property housing laws in Portsmouth in 2020 alone.
Councillor Darren Sanders, Cabinet Member for Housing and Preventing Homelessness said: “We will not tolerate landlords acting irresponsibly. Landlords and agents must take their responsibility seriously and ensure that they are following legislations and laws in place to keep people safe.
We will continue to issue fines to those who continue to break the law.”
For further information and advice landlords and agents should contact the private sector housing team by emailing PSH@portsmouthcc.gov.uk.
Information and guidance can be found at www.gov.uk/renting-out-a-property