Does the punishment fit the crime?

by Readers Question

8:42 AM, 7th November 2018
About a month ago

Does the punishment fit the crime?

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Does the punishment fit the crime?

This morning I read about a landlord who failed to make improvements demanded by the local Council through notice under the Housing Act 2004. Apparently, the property required repairs to rectify a number of health and safety issues, including dangerous electrics and damp. There were no more details available than that in the article I read.

However, the Council issued a fixed penalty notice for £1,000 in regards to the smoke alarm and on top of that the landlord was fined £20,000.

I see that Property118 posted a comment below the article to say “we agree that non-compliance shouldn’t be tolerated, but we also believe in justice and a £20,000 fine just doesn’t make sense for a crime of this nature. Compare that to a fine for speeding for example, both of which have similar risks to human life.”

I also note that several “criminal landlord convictions” have subsequently been overturned on appeal.

Are landlords being singled out and treated unfairly by Council’s and the Judiciary?

Should landlords be compensated for stress and damage to their reputations after having their names dragged through the mud if/when they win their appeals, and should that compensation be commensurate to the fined imposed?

Do you think the punishments being handed out fit the crimes?

What are your thoughts?



Comments

MARIE ELLIS

9:18 AM, 7th November 2018
About a month ago

Hi I'm reading this with interest I have a MASSIVE 25k INTENT TO FINE for alleged offences yet I've been called an 'offender' right from the start. Its a four person, two storey HMO not needing a licence. I have three properties in total. The notice is all wrong with wrong information on it yet I've got to fight this to save my own home (I'm a single parent). I'm horrified this has happened. I was given 28 days to 'comply' then no one checked and I got the intent to fine anyway. More disturbingly is that the Intent to Fine notice says I have 28 days to pay (its not even a Notice yet) and the bank details are on there to pay with a DISCOUNT if I pay on time. Its shocking, its really BAD of the council to do this, they are trying to bully me into paying an Intent to Fine!! The house wasn't checked properly, things were missed, they didn't go in rooms, they have called me obstructive when I was indeed the opposite, I have been in touch with them all the way. This can't be right. It has caused me IMMENSE stress and anxiety and has started to make me ill, the council don't care they just want to line their pockets to employ more of these INCOMPETENT enforcers (mine was a graduate)

terry sullivan

10:06 AM, 7th November 2018
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by MARIE ELLIS at 07/11/2018 - 09:18
name the council

contact your MP?

Ian Narbeth

10:08 AM, 7th November 2018
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by MARIE ELLIS at 07/11/2018 - 09:18Hi Marie
I am sorry to hear of your problems. The best way to defend yourself is to instruct a lawyer to act for you. Councils usually back down when they are dealing with someone who knows their rights and is legally represented. I am afraid it will cost you but the risk of a fine (and that may mean you can't get licensed as an HMO landlord if you need to be in future) is serious enough to warrant the fees.

AA

10:23 AM, 7th November 2018
About a month ago

Agree with Ian - the minute a lawyer gets involved they will be back tracking all the way. In my experience the threat of legal action counter or otherwise normally leads to matters being dealt with in a different way. And as it is easy these days, always film visits, meetings, inspections as evidence.

MARIE ELLIS

10:57 AM, 7th November 2018
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by AA at 07/11/2018 - 10:23
hiya thanks for the reply
unfortunately they didn't give me a chance to attend the inspection they did it on spec and took 6 minutes in there, they said they have done a risk assessment but won't produce it, its all mad

Luke P

11:16 AM, 7th November 2018
About a month ago

I have observed the goings ons of councils for some time and have concluded that unlike the Police who must properly investigate, evidence and present a case to a Court, local authorities often do not (certainly so, now that civil penalties are here) and because a great many have a hatred of LLs, want to make their point and power known loud and clear. Like you say, fine's for theft or serious motoring offences or assault do not run to anything like the levels imposed on LLs for 'offences' that aren't nearly as aggravating or reckless in nature, but it's something we've come to accept as a society and two 'non-LL' crimes, say drink driving (a foolish and potentially dangerous act) and robbery (as opposed to theft...a deliberate and possibly even more dangerous act) are treated very differently in most cases. The robber is likely to walk away with a slap on the wrist and a couple hundred pound fine, whereas the drink driver will have several hundreds in fine, lost licence, extended retest, 11-year burden and massively increased insurance premiums. Sure, we want to try and stamp out DD, but so too do we want rid of robbery. It's more to do with what the offended has to lose and LLs are seen as fat cats.

AA

11:44 AM, 7th November 2018
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by MARIE ELLIS at 07/11/2018 - 10:57
Request a re-inspection. You make an absolute statement in your communication via your lawyer that you completely disagree with the findings which you have no knowledge of - and here is the crunch, find out who the CEO is of your LA is, Director of housing and a couple of other senior staff and make it clear you will be requiring them to attend court. If you cite them as witnesses they will be obliged to attend. That posture will culminate in a re-thinking of how the matter is being dealt with.

Martin Thomas

12:05 PM, 7th November 2018
About a month ago

Can someone clarify please? I guess it's the council that levies the fixed penalty of say, £1,000 for a misdemeanour but who levies the fine of say £20,000? Is it a court and a judge? If so, what sort of court is it? The word 'kangaroo' springs to mind.
Most good landlords will support the idea of rogue landlords being penalised, particularly where the council has insisted on safety improvements and the landlord has wilfully ignored them (we've all seen the TV programmes) but I am concerned we are entering an era where the council can get really picky with good landlords and whack them with hefty fines that are out of all proportion to the 'crime'.

Luke P

12:09 PM, 7th November 2018
About a month ago

Reply to the comment left by Martin Thomas at 07/11/2018 - 12:05Civil penalty, with no reference to a Court. Appeal via FTPT (read: the council).

Essentially it was admitted that all this nonsense about due process was all too much bother for local authorities, so they just created a system whereby they are Judge, Jury & Executioner...

Sam Addison

12:48 PM, 7th November 2018
About a month ago

This is one of the reasons I will never run anything resembling an HMO and will avoid areas of licensing. I will happily work with local authorities when they start seeing PRS as part of the solution rather than part of the problem. I have some hopes of Andy Burnham in Manchester in that regard.

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