Defending a Prohibition Notice for both the Owner and the Subletting Landlord and replacing the subletting Landlord with a more suitable fit and proper Landlord in order to have the prohibition order withdrawn

The owner is an elderly man and his daughter was dealing with the property and had let it to a subletting Company who was the Subletting (Rent to Rent) Landlord.

The Owner and Subletting Landlord had received enforcement notices for breach of licensing regulations and had failed to complete the works which the Subletting Landlord had promised to complete and fund. These included complying with simple Fire Regulations such as the installation of Fire doors and suitable keyless exit locks.

On the Council’s subsequent visits prompted by an irritated occupant, they found the works were not progressing, and it became obvious that the subletting Landlord was neither prepared to complete the works, nor had the ability and capacity to do so.

The Council issued a Prohibition Order to the owner indicating that they would take over management of the property. Suitably worried, the Subletting Landlord contacted us for immediate assistance.

On understanding the facts from the Landlord, we contacted the Owner to to uncover the facts as they saw them.

We immediately contacted the Council to get their view on the situation and to uncover what their appetite was to withdraw enforcement and prosecution.

It transpired that the Subletting Landlord was doing some of the work, but because he hadn’t also put in a valid Licence Application, he was “in breach” on a number of issues.  

Although the owner had funded the rewiring and certification of the electrical system and of an early warning fire detection system, both of which which had in fact been done; the gas safety certificate and simple clearing of fire escape route passages in the property had not. Not had a number of other minor matters.

The biggest issue was the Licence Application had been submitted incorrectly and the cheque supporting the application had bounced!

The Subletting Landlord and the Owner were about to be prosecuted and the expected Civil Penalties or fines were to be in the order of £20,000 EACH!

The owner was about to go for major surgery and instructed Landlords Defence: “just make the problem go away or solve it with whatever it takes.”

Working with the Subletting Landlord, who had been living in the property alongside his tenants, we insisted that he vacate the premises immediately, to permit space for us to work with the remaining occupants and bring calm to the property again. We were able to reassure them that all issues could and would be solved but that we would need cooperation by everyone to bring this about, if they wished to remain living in the property.  This process uncovered yet more breaches in the Management of HMO Regulations! We also discovered that the subletting landlord has never protected their deposits – another serious breach of legislation.

We developed a proposal and solution which were presented to the Council that we believed they could work with. In this case we proposed finding a new, properly trained Subletting Landlord to oversee and complete the works completed, manage the property and instate proper agreements with the occupants.

The Council agreed the solution because it was pro-active and would lead to a whole set of problems going away. They agreed to proceed with our solution with no prosecution and no enforcement action against either the owner (mainly because of his ill health and his not understanding that the house was being used as an HMO)  nor the former Subletting Landlord who was clearly out of his depth and who we gently suggested needed to leave the industry as he did not have the competence to manage HMO properties and also did not possess the funds to pay any fines that may have been imposed due to his lack of capability.

A certainly complex and difficult negotiation to undertake and one that achieved a great result for all parties.

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