On the Street: The Rogue Landlord

On the Street: Landlord Prosecuted for failing to display contact details.

There have been numerous reports over the years of ‘rogue’ landlords. These are landlords have caused serious damage to the representation of those working hard in the private rental sector. Landlords, who, have typically been prosecuted for failure to comply to HMO regulations.

The first story like this that caught our attention was back in 2015. The reason this case resonated is that we could understand the landlord had made a mistake in not being diligent with the HMO requirements.

I understand the council’s point of view. HMO regulations and licensing exists because there is a genuine need for them. Overcrowding and faulty fire alarms or carbon monoxide detectors can cause cause serious accidents.

In December 2015, Oxford City Council prosecuted a landlord for failing to have his contact details displayed in the main entrance to the house. He had also failed to properly maintain fire escape routes. The landlord was fined £15,000 for his errors a figure payable directly to the council as a fine and to cover court fees. In addition, Mr Coyle, was ordered to refund a further £2987 to the tenants – the entire rent paid during their stay in the house. This can cause some considerable financial loss for landlords who only have the one property.

Part of the landlord’s defense was that issues had primarily arisen out of the confusing variations in HMO regulations across towns and councils, and this is where we sympathise with him. Mr Coyle told the court that in Cheltenham, where Coyle lives, the law requires landlords to have a license in homes where more than five non-related people live, but in Oxford it is four. Nevertheless, Mr Coyle’s defence didn’t stand and he was susequently ordered to pay the court fees, recompense the tenants and pay the council. I would suggest readers to have a look at their own council’s HMO regulations regarding displaying emergency contact information.

Morale of the story?

Ignorance does not mitigate responsibility! However, HMO regulations can be tricky to navigate and confusing national variations certainly don’t help!