Housing Act 2004 Section 72(1) Unlicensed HMO

Housing Act 2004 Section 72(1)

If you’ve just searched for the term Housing Act 2004 Section 72(1), then the chances are very high that you’ve received a letter from your Council’s Housing Enforcement Officer similar to the ones in the photos.

It means that your Council Housing department have already decided that you are guilty without trial of Criminal Acts in relation to The Housing Act 2004 and related Regulations. Often they do not have enough evidence. But most landlords don’t understand the danger they are in and happily give the Council more and more evidence with which to prosecute them.

In the case of Housing Act 2004 Section 72(1) it means they have decided you are guilty of operating an HMO without a licence. Even if you believe that you have rented out your property or a single-family dwelling or a 3/4 person HMO that doesn't require licensing, its very easy for your council to 'suspect' that you're running an unlicensed HMO and that is all the evidence they need in order to hit you with Civil Penalty fines in the £1,000s - often around £8,000 to 12,000.

**Do not attempt to discuss your letter on notice with anyone at the Council before you take professional advice.**

Why?

Because, just like the police when suspecting someone of a serious crime, their only interest now is to get you to self-incriminate so that they can substantiate their “Guilty” decision and can then proceed to extract many £1,000s from you by way of Civil Financial Penalty Fines or take you to Criminal Court.

You would not phone up the police for a bit of a chat to explain why you thought it was ok to drive at 105 miles per hour. You would not dream of giving them all the evidence thy need to prosecute you without having professional representation.  In exactly the same way, to avoid giving the Council all the evidence they need to prosecute or fine you.

And we hate to say it, but you probably are guilty. It is extremely easy to be guilty of offences under the Housing Act(s). 

Failure to apply for an HMO Licence

 (Many councils’ favourite ‘crime’ is that of failing to apply for an HMO (or Selective) Licence. 

 They will raid a house that they think *might* be a licensable HMO of 5 persons under that Mandatory HMO Licensing legislation (or 3 if they have an Additional Licensing Scheme in operation) and they only have to suspect there could be a fifth person living there that you’re probably not even aware of. 

Quite often it’s just a visiting girl or boyfriend – but that’s enough for them to throw the book at you.

And throwing the book at you is exactly what they will do because as well as deciding you are guilty of a section 72(1) offence they will then set out to find you in breach of ALL of these ‘relevant housing offences’ under Section 249A:

Many councils’ favourite ‘crime’ is that of failing to apply for an HMO (or Selective) Licence. They will raid a house that they think *might* be a licensable HMO of 5 persons under that Mandatory HMO Licensing legislation (or 3 if they have an Additional Licensing Scheme in operation) and they only have to *suspect* there could be a fifth person living there that you’re probably not even aware of. Quite often it’s just a visiting girl or boyfriend – but that’s enough for them to throw the book at you.

And throwing the book at you is exactly what they will do because they will set out to find you in breach of ALL of these ‘relevant housing offences’ under Section 249A:

Housing Act 2004 Section 30 – failure to comply with an improvement notice

Housing Act 2004 Section 72 – failure to licence an HMO

Housing Act 2004 Section 95 – failure to licence a house under Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004 (i.e. failure to apply for a Selective Licence)

Housing Act 2004 Section 139(7) – failure to comply with an overcrowding notice

Housing Act 2004 Section 237 – failure under the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations (England) 2006 including (and they usually create a separate Civil Penalty for each of these that they can get you on):

Regulation 3 – failure to display the managers full details prominently in the HMO

Regulation 4 – failure of the manager to take safety measures

Regulation 5 – failure of the manager to maintain water supply and drainage

Regulation 6 – failure of the manager to supply and maintain gas and electricity

Regulation 7 – failure of the manager to maintain the common parts, fixtures fittings and appliances

Regulation 8 – failure of the manager to maintain living accommodation

Regulation 9 – failure to provide (adequate) waste disposal facilities

Not Fit and Proper Person

But that is not all. The chances are very high that they will continue after issuing this letter to declare you to be a Not Fit and Proper Person to hold a licence – they will do this by refusing to grant a licence for your property in your name. If you have other licenced properties they will often issue a Notice to Revoke licences.

Councils can completely destroy your business.

And just for good measure, many councils’ not only make your tenants aware that they can reclaim up to 12 months’ rent from you because you didn’t have a licence when you should have had one. Many Councils even help tenants to fill in the forms.

PACE interview under caution

If you see ‘helpful’ words in the letter like

“If you would like a meeting to discuss the proposed financial penalty before making your representations,then please contact the xxxxx team so arrangements can be made to meet at the Town/City Hall”

Do NOT make any such arrangements. This is a trick to get you to attend a PACE (Police And Criminal Evidence ACT) interview under caution.

The sole purpose of which is to trick you into self-incrimination

Get Help ASAP

If you’ve received one of these Housing Act Section 249A and Schedule 13A: Financial Penalties letters you need to act fast because you have very little time before the fines are imposed.

Engage immediate help from experts in Housing Act Legislation and Regulation like ourselves at Landlord Licensing and Defence.

Don’t think that you will be able to get these fines dropped. There is a very low chance of that. As we said above, it’s very easy for a council enforcement officer to find you guilty and you are Guilty until Proven Innocent.

However, what can be done – and we achieve this on a weekly basis – is for us as your representative to negotiate the level of fines with your council. We can do this because we know the legislation and we know from experience HOW to negotiate.

And remember our discussions with the Council do not incriminate you. If you think you can negotiate with them yourself you are totally wrong. Because everything you say can and will be used against you in evidence.

If the is Council declaring you a Not Fit and Proper Person and refusing or withdrawing license we can find solutions that the council will accept  that can save your business from ruin.

Don’t delay – contact us immediately for the help you need.  Time is absolutely of the essence.

The Legal Stuff Housing Act 2004 Section 72 Offences in relation to licensing of HMOs

72 (1) A person commits an offence if he is a person having control of or managing an HMO which is required to be licensed under this Part (see section 61(1)) but is not so licensed.

The penalties are contained in 72(6) (7) and (7A) as follows

72(6) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) or (2) is liable on summary conviction to a fine.

72(7) A person who commits an offence under subsection (3) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale. [level 5 is an UNLIMITED fine together with prison if the magistrates so decide]

72(7A) See also section 249A (financial penalties as alternative to prosecution for certain housing offences in England).

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