14 May 24

Liverpool City Council has secured a four-year banning order against a letting agent for operating unlicensed houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

However, the letting agent, Trophy Homes, vowed to appeal, saying it had only committed minor administrative errors.

The order against the company was secured following convictions in February 2023, including the failure to license two HMO properties.

It was granted by the First-Tier Tribunal on 25 April 2024 under the Housing and Planning Act 2016. It will remain in place for four years (until 2028).

As a result of the order, Trophy Homes will also be placed on the database of rogue landlords and property agents, to which all housing authorities in England have access.

The city council said the order prohibits the agent from letting housing in England, engaging in English letting agency work, engaging in English property management work, or doing two or more of those things. Breaching the banning order is a criminal offence.

The local authority added that the order was not extended to existing tenancies for a period of six months, “meaning Trophy Homes is prevented from granting any new tenancies, but current tenancies can end or assign without significant impact on current occupiers”.

The banning order follows an £82,500 fine plus costs of £1,176 and a £2k victim surcharge imposed on the agent earlier in April.

Louise Harford, Liverpool City Council’s Interim Director of Housing, said: “We will always work with landlords and letting agents in the city – but we will also always take action where it is needed to keep tenants safe.

“It is extremely disappointing that Trophy Homes has not taken their responsibilities as letting agents seriously and this Banning Order will give them a substantial amount of time to get their own house in order.

“The granting of this Order will also send a further signal that the council’s Private Sector Housing team will not tolerate landlords and letting agents who ignore their legal obligations.”

In a statement Trophy Homes said: “It is disheartening to witness the sequence of events that have unfolded. The company committed minor administrative errors in less than 1.6% of managed properties, none of which involved any physical safety concerns.

“The company has previously sought to hold the council itself to account for its poor governance, and the necessary pursuit of transparency has here been met not with reflection or reform, but with retaliation. We view this as a clear vendetta against the company which has culminated in measures that will likely force the company into administration and the loss of eight valuable jobs.

“This outcome will not just be detrimental to our employees and their families, but it also sets a concerning precedent for the treatment of entities that dare to challenge the status quo and expose governance failures. All actions the city council have brought will be urgently appealed, but it may be too late to save the company.”

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