23 Jun 2020

The last two weeks has been hectic and often people see what we publish and ask what exactly do we do?

Well here are some of the things we have covered in the last two weeks, no day is ever boring and it is a long read and these cases are all landlords just like you:

Breaking the Law

If you drive at 90mph you will eventually get caught.

If you break the law of the Housing Act 2004 or the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 you can expect to have enforcement action taken against you.

Here are some of the interesting battles we have been fighting:

Converted flats are HMO and need additional Licence:

Portfolio landlord bought a block of converted flats, turns out that due to the layout they need a HMO licence, luckily he asked early enough and the council has another 4 months on the application window for him to get the place licensed. 

He does not like doing HMO so, an agent is taking over to manage that.

All change at the HMO – Licence conditions breached:

A landlord has licensed HMO and decided to alter it and change the layout to get more rooms, the licence conditions state you must advise the council and submit drawings in advance to the HMO Licence team, it was a HMO under permitted development before and works are an extension of the property under permitted development too. 

Almost done but in breach of licence conditions. Some considerations and special conversations needed for the landlord with the council. Lesson learned; the landlord must read his licence before commencing any alterations.

Double bubble rent repayment orders – all HMO Licences revoked too:

The landlord had a rent repayment order last month for not having his HMO Licence in place. 

The council also revoked all his existing HMO licences so he had to get all his properties managed and relicensed. 

A massive cost for a large portfolio for his errors. 

This month he has another Rent Repayment Order coming as his name is being targeted by law firms writing directly to his tenants suggesting rent repayment orders.

This is a serious targeted attack on his business. Beware, get one wrong the business you have can turn into a house of cards by predator councils, law firms and tenants out to destroy you. Ask for help if you have any questions. 

90 day rule serviced accommodation enforcement:

Rent to rent operator with a flat in London received a Planning Contravention Notice for breaching the 90-day limit rule. 

The law requires them to answer many questions about what has been happening in the property and if they do not there is £1000 fine and enforcement action too. 

This is serious and you cannot get away with it anymore, change strategy on how you operate or apply for planning. 

We have a plan that will work and they will be lucky, so will the owner who is not actually realising how serious this could be. Especially as the freeholder is the council too.

To have and to hold from this day forth:

A landlord had received Civil Penalties for not licensing his houses and began asking the council for help. 

The confusion went on for many years with him being massively fined and making a pig’s ear of his defence and appeals to the First-Tier Tribunal. 

He kept focussing on what they had done wrong rather than the claim they made. In investigating it fully, both properties did not need a licence at the time of the claimed offences by the council, foul play suspected. 

One property had a greater than 21 years lease and was exempt from licensing by that and the other was vacant at the time the council claims it was occupied. 

The council tax records prove it too, yet the manager of enforcement continues to waste time and resources pursuing an innocent landlord. This one will be headline news one day.

Rent repayment order – New Yorker – Far Away Landlords do not know the Law here:

This landlord lives in the USA and during Covid-19 his tenant used the council to start the rent repayment order process. 

This council has a staff member who spends all day helping tenants make rent repayment orders against landlords. The landlord contacted us at the end of April after he had self-incriminated and wanted help. He just wanted it finished. 

Looking at it he was guilty but we worked out the council was lapse, had missed the statutory deadlines for the licensing issue and I considered that there were more similar issues. 

By taking our time stopping the client talking to the council and letting us handle it, we averted a First-Tier Tribunal, settled on a massively lower figure using a unique strategy of negotiation and when I delivered the news to the client his first words were Wow! 

If he had any idea in New York that licensing had been introduced he would have applied. The council never wrote to him as the owner, they never put it on the council tax bills where there is so much space to write adverts for such schemes. 

The tenant was never disadvantaged nor was the house unsafe, all that had happened was he should have applied for a temporary exemption notice if the landlord had been told. A good agent manages the property now and it is not a HMO either.

No deposit no return – Just a ticket to the FTT:

This landlord never secured any of the tenants’ deposits in the HMO because the rogue agent disappeared, the agent also permitted more than 4 people to live in the property and hence it needed a HMO licence too. Claims for Rent Repayment Order, three times deposit and fines from the council for no licence too. Choose your agents wisely, let us know if you need a good one. We know loads. 

A fortnight flies by when you are busy – don’t judge – it could be you next

As you can see this is the type of work our firm deals with and each and every one of those landlords above is just like you, a good citizen doing what they thought was the best they could.

Most of our clients are the biggest and best landlords in the country who know things change so rapidly that must have a specialist like us on speed dial to advise act and defend when the enemy attacks. 

DO NOT JUDGE, we are helping Landlords get out of trouble when they get into it. Every landlord makes genuine mistakes, drops the ball and SOME get away with it and OTHERS do not. 

The wrong day, the wrong moment, the wrong tenant and anything of the above can happen to you or your portfolio. Councils are ruthless and unforgiving and will destroy your business in one inspection.

Wishing you luck and if you have questions then get in touch via www/landlordsdefence.co.uk/contact or phone 0208 088 0788

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