February 2, 2024 12:55 pm

Insert Lead Generation
Nikka Sulton

Licensing Risks – Double Jeopardy and Entrapment. A legal services provider, Landlord Licensing & Defence, raises a red flag for landlords, emphasizing the looming threat of criminal prosecution for breaches of licensing rules. Des Taylor, the director, underscores the challenges landlords face, deeming certain regulations as “unreasonable and beyond their control.” Despite the introduction of the Renters Reform Bill and the promise of a landlord portal to streamline processes, the persistence of selective licensing requirements remains a concern. This oversight, according to Taylor, is apparent in the actions of Parliament, tenant lobbying organizations, and environmental health officers responsible for housing enforcement under the Housing Act 2004.

In this climate, landlords find themselves navigating a complex landscape where compliance is not just a legal obligation but a potential source of criminal liability. The disconnect between legislative expectations and on-the-ground realities creates a precarious situation for property owners. Taylor’s insights shed light on the ongoing challenges, urging landlords to stay vigilant and informed about the evolving regulatory environment to mitigate legal risks associated with licensing breaches.

The persistence of licensing in the property sector is evident, with new selective licensing schemes extending into city areas beyond London. Notably, recent initiatives by Birmingham City Council and Nottingham City Council have brought licensing into the spotlight. Des Taylor, the director of Landlord Licensing & Defence, sheds light on the challenges posed by licensing conditions. There’s a growing concern about the potential for double jeopardy enforcement and the risk of entrapment, particularly when landlords lack control over certain activities, such as a tenant’s anti-social behavior outside the premises.

As the landscape of licensing evolves, questions arise about the fairness and practicality of these regulatory measures. The expansion of licensing schemes adds a layer of complexity for landlords, forcing them to grapple with the nuances and potential pitfalls associated with these requirements. Navigating the intricacies of licensing conditions becomes a crucial aspect for landlords aiming to stay compliant while contending with circumstances beyond their immediate control.

Numerous ongoing cases underscore a peculiar scenario where tenants openly confess to causing property damage and obstructing access. Despite this admission, landlords and agents find themselves subject to enforcement under licensing conditions. The nuanced nature of these scenarios often eludes many landlords who may not fully comprehend the implications of non-compliance with these specific conditions.

For landlords navigating the licensing landscape, be it their initial application or renewal, a meticulous review of the conditions is paramount. Ensuring strict adherence becomes not just a regulatory requirement but a shield against potential enforcement actions. Des Taylor, a director at Landlord Licensing & Defence, sheds light on the often underestimated Notice of Intent to Grant a License. Despite its weightiness in the process, it frequently gets overlooked. This document provides landlords with a minimum 14-day window to make representations, a crucial opportunity to address any disagreements with the stipulated license conditions, thereby safeguarding their interests and maintaining regulatory compliance.

“Licence conditions are one of those things that many people think they have to accept as presented and not realising that once you have accepted all the conditions on that licence, that not complying with them is a criminal offence. If you have a managing agent and they do not comply you are both culpable, because you agreed to them, by not contesting them through representation. The local housing authority can now enforce against you as a criminal offence.”

Taylor says his service is seeing considerably more enforcements against licensing conditions as landlords have unwittingly broken the rules without knowing of them, because of a failure to check.

He concludes: “There is no evidence that a licensing scheme ever achieves the outcomes promised at the time of the proposal and furthermore it is not understood why the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, continues to support those schemes where the local housing authority wishes to apply the selective licensing scheme in more than 20 per cent of its geographical area.

“There does not appear to be any justification most of the time and some are abandoned, some are renewed yet little, or nothing is achieved by the schemes. Most of the time it is more revenue for the council in licensing fees and the ability to enforce under a breach of licence conditions.”


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