Here is a question to the blog clinic from Andrew (not his real name) who is a landlord
I’m facing a prosecution for an unlicensed HMO property. I had an agent who was responsible for the management of the property.
Unfortunately I did not have something in writing with the individual but he has was the tenant’s point of contact and coordinated building works in my property. All of which has been documented in the witness statements collated by the council.
The agent and myself have both been instructed to appear in court. I am so worried and overwhelmed. If I get prosecuted what are the repercussions? Ie impact my credit file, can I ever be a landlord again, payment options in repaying fine as the fact I am in financial difficulty caused the issue in the first place.
The consequences are fairly serious, but they won’t actually stop you being a landlord (under the current laws).
First, you will almost certainly be fined. How much the fine will be, will depend on the views of the Magistrates but they are now starting to impose more serious fines and the amount Magistrates can now fine is unlimited.
The Court does sometimes allow you to pay by instalments but you need to have evidence of your financial circumstances. You can also ask to pay by instalments at a later date. Here is a fact sheet from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
Your credit file will almost certainly be affected by this and it may affect whether you are able to get credit in the future.
Finally, this will mean that it will be difficult or impossible for you to get an HMO license in your own name. This means that if you want to continue running an HMO property you will need to have a manager so that the license can be in the name of the manager.
Note that if the extended HMO licensing rules discussed earlier this week come into force, there are going to be many more landlords who will need a license and who will be vulnerable to prosecution if they don’t get one.
If anyone reading this article is in this position, you are strongly advised to take some legal advice at an early stage as it really can make a difference. We have an HMO Hotline service where you can speak to an HMO specialist at Anthony Gold for £95 – find out more here.
There is also an article on prosecutions in the HMO series I wrote with David Smith here.