Unlimited fines for serious housing offences
New laws that come into force today (12 March 2015) will dramatically increase that maximum fine that can be imposed on rogue landlords.
Previously, the maximum penalty for most housing offences under the Housing Act 2004 was capped at £5,000 (level 5 fine), or up to £20,000 fine for letting out a property without a selective, additional or mandatory HMO licence.
But changes implemented today mean that this upper limit has been removed and landlords and managing agents convicted by the Courts could find themselves subject to an unlimited fine.
The changes bring into sharp focus the need for landlords to fully understand their legal responsibilities and ensure they comply with all aspects of housing law.
The changes are not retrospective and the higher penalties only apply to offences committed from 12 March 2015. In announcing the decision, the Ministry of Justice made clear that Magistrates would still take into account the financial means of the offender in accordance with sentencing guidelines.
The changes referred to result from the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Fines on Summary Conviction) Regulations 2015 that brings into force section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.
The changes relate to a wide variety of offences and are not restricted to housing.