10:32 AM, 29th November 2022, About 2 months ago 6
Licencing schemes are inconsistent across the country with the chair of the Lettings Industry Council accusing councils of ‘trying to catch landlords out’.
Theresa Wallace spoke to the Telegraph after the newspaper filed Freedom of Information (FoI) requests with councils.
It found that some unsuspecting landlords have been fined up to £45,000 for failing to have the correct licences for their properties.
Ms Wallace said: “The objective of the licencing scheme is not being met – which was to improve property standards.
“Just because you have a licence, it doesn’t mean your property is safe to live in.”
The Telegraph found that since October 2021, six London landlords were fined between £1,250 and £4,000 because they did not have an HMO licence for their homes that had fewer than five bedrooms.
This was after some local authorities unveiled additional HMO requirements in the past two years.
Ms Wallace said most landlords and letting agents who fall foul of licencing regulations are naive or caught unawares by their tenants who may have moved another person into a property.
She said: “We don’t have enough landlords and we have lost a lot of them from the sector.
“Scaring them out is not helping the industry. I don’t think the scheme is very well publicised.
“Why would anyone think to look on their local authority website? Anybody could be caught out by pure naivety.”
She pointed out that more landlords are likely to be fined as more local authorities roll out licensing schemes – which will generate profit for councils.
The Telegraph found that landlords were typically fined £10,000-15,000 for failing to have an HMO licence.
In one borough, they discovered that 40 fines had been issued, totalling £172,000.
Five landlords in the City of Westminster were handed criminal convictions, the FOIs revealed.
The newspaper highlights that hundreds of landlords have been fined for failing to have the correct licences across London.