Penalties for not having an additional licence
Failing to have a licence is a criminal offence and subject to an unlimited fine upon conviction. Listed below are details of possible breaches:
- it is an offence if the landlord or person in control of the property fails to apply for a licence and he/she is liable on summary conviction to an unlimited fine
- a licence holder who breaches any of the licence conditions is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5
- it is a criminal offence to obstruct the Local Authority in carrying out their functions under Parts 1 to 4 and sections 239 and 240 and is liable upon conviction a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale
- overcrowding - a landlord committing an offence of overcrowding is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale and to a further fine not exceeding one-tenth of the amount corresponding to that level in respect of every day subsequent to the day on which he is convicted on which the offence continues
Under s.324 of the Housing Act 1985 a 'dwelling' (home) is overcrowded when the number of persons sleeping in the dwelling is such as to contravene:
- the standard specified in section 325 (the room standard)
- the standard specified in section 326 (the space standard)
Find out more information on the standard scale of fines.
Consequences of not having an additional licence
A landlord who is required to have a licence but doesn't, loses the right to automatic possession of the rented property under an assured shorthold lease under HA1988, s.21 (as amended s.75).
Tenants may make an application to a Residential Property Tribunal for a Rent Repayment Order (RRO) if the landlord has been convicted of the offence of operating a licensed property without a licence. If rents were paid through Housing Benefit, the Council will use its powers under the Act to seek RROs for repayment of twelve months’ Housing Benefit or for the period since the landlord was required to license the HMO, if less. We may also provide tenants with information about how to apply for an RRO.
Defences for not having an additional licence
There are three defences available to someone who does not have the requisite licence:
- When there is a reasonable excuse for his failure (section 95(1))
- At the relevant time the landlord has notified the local Housing Authority of his intention to cease renting out the property or otherwise no longer be subject to selective licencing and his notification remains effective (section 95(3)(a))
- At the relevant time the landlord has applied for a licence and the application remains effective (section 95(3)(b))