9:00 AM, 11th October 2012, About 10 years ago 4
Well I think they are wrong, VERY wrong, and in this article I will explain why.
Before I start my list though, I should mention the laws affecting us are imposed by a multitude of different organisations which can impose their authority.
Estate Agency Act 1979 states that if we want to act as an agent for either a buyer or a seller of property we must register with an independent Ombudsman scheme of which there are two. The body which can levy a fine is Trading Standards. Each offence can receive a fine of up to £1,000 and the ultimate penalty Trading Standards can impose is to close down a business and ban the owners from starting up a new one. Where fraud is concerned this can be extended to criminal prosecutions resulting in criminal sentences.
Financial Services Act 1986 prevents us from raising finance based on collective investment without full FSA authorisation. The same act also regulates the arrangement and provision of buy to let mortgages where the borrower intends to live in a property at some point in the future of let to an immediate family member. A sub-section of the act known as financial promotions regulations also regulates the marketing of all buy to let mortgages, whether the mortgages themselves are regulated or not.
Mortgage Fraud – many buy to let investors do not realise that failing to disclose all material facts to a mortgage lender could be treated as a criminal offence, the maximum sentence for which is 14 years imprisonment. Playing a game of cat and mouse with mortgage lenders to borrow money which you would not ordinarily meet criteria and qualify for is a very dangerous game to play. Nevertheless, some landlords simply do not realise the risks they take, for example, arranging no money down financing or buying a property using a personal or domestic mortgage when using the opposite product.
Property Misdescriptions Act regulates our advertising of properties. The law is enforced by the advertising standards agency “ASA” who are part of Trading Standards.
The Housing Act 1988 contains masses of regulation. Fines, criminal prosecutions and other penalties can be levied by District Judges. Here are some examples:-
Illegal Eviction – this can lead to a criminal prosecution. Housing charities and Council employed tenancy relations officers will often fight to secure convictions.
Deposit Protection – failing to register a deposit, or indeed re-register a deposit on the renewal of a tenancy, can result in a penalty of up to three times the deposit and loss of the ability to gain no fault possession of a property using a section 21 notice.
Landlords Gas Safety Certificates – failing to obtain an annual gas safety certificate for a let property could result in criminal convictions, imprisonment and massive fines. Six figure fines and prison sentences have been handed out. The health and safety executive of local councils are the most likely body to press for criminal convictions.
And then there are the laws which are nothing to do with the housing Act whatsoever. here are some more examples ….
HMO Licencing – whilst statute exists to define a HMO’s every council is allowed to create its own definition and licence fee. If a landlord fails to licence an HMO, even if the criteria for what constitutes an HMO is confusing to Council Staff, the landlord is still liable to be fined up to £20,000.
Article 4 Regulations – this piece of legislation allows Councils to decide that houses in certain areas which are rented on a shared basis could be subject to different planning laws. I’m not sure what the fine is for not complying with this, anybody know? What I do know is that concerns exist that is planning is changed the property may not be able to be re-sold as a private dwelling and could fall in value as a result.
Newham Licencing – every landlord in Newham will need to purchase a licence costing £500 for 5 years with effect from January 2013. If they apply now they will pay £150. However, it’s not one licence per landlord, it’s one licence for every property a landlord lets in Newham. The fine for not licencing is up to £20,000 per unlicensed property.
Welsh Licencing – I don’t know too much about this but from what I can gather it’s similar to Newham but subject to fines of up to £25,000.