Stricter Rules and Bigger Fines

Calls for ever-stricter rules in Scotland

There’s always plenty in the news for landlords to be paying close attention to, but this week, we have turned our attention to the illegal evictions – something that is really hitting the headlines north of the border. 

Citizens Advice Scotland is calling for harsh action to be taken on Scottish landlords who evict tenants illegally, requesting a ban be placed on anyone undertaking the shady dealings. 

Scottish landlord law is among the strictest in the UK, with no-fault eviction notices already banned – something which the rest of the UK is looking to follow suit. There is already a landlord register in place, which requests a landlord to pass a ‘fit and proper person’ test before they can become a landlord at all. 

You get a big fat fail on the test if you are found to have:

  • Discriminated against a tenant
  • Harassed a tenant
  • Illegally evicted someone

This means your landlord dreams are over before they can begin. Having a criminal conviction doesn’t guarantee a failure though… although clearly it is dependent on what that conviction is for! 

However, Citizens Advice Scotland believe more can be done. They are also calling for the government to introduce mandatory training for landlords before they can register and undertake better data collection about illegal evictions. If a landlord were to fail to undertake the relevant training courses, they would be hit with hefty fines. 

Although this sounds like yet another slam on landlords, Citizens Advice Scotland has stated that actually, it should be seen as a positive for the sector as a whole. They maintain that bad landlords who harass their tenants, evict them illegally or generally behave badly give the entire sector a bad name – one bad apple spoiling the whole barrel sort of affair. 

Social justice spokesperson for Citizens Advice Scotland, Aoife Deery said: 

That is why mandatory training and tougher penalties like bans or fines for rogue landlords should be considered as part of any forthcoming Housing Bill.

One thing is for certain though. When it comes to housing legislation, where Scotland leads, the rest of the UK usually (eventually!) follows. So, if this comes into play for Scottish landlords, it’s a fair bet to assume that the rest of the UK may look to expect it in a few years!

Rogue landlord receives £115k fine for HMO failures

New legislation is all well and good, but there is an ongoing battle to get some landlords to pay attention to the EXISTING legislation that governs the sector (and has been in place for a good while)!

We mention fines on the Mashroom Show fairly regularly. We don’t do it to scare people, but it’s really worth knowing that the powers that be are not messing around when it comes to dishing out penalties when important legal requirements are not adhered to. It is rare, however, that we come across a fine this hefty. 

Stephen Cunningham received the massive bill of £115,181, after he was found to be operating several poorly run, unlicensed HMOs in West Northamptonshire. 

The council’s private sector housing team inspected the four properties after they received a number of complaints about noise, fly tipping and waste, and found a list of issues. It also transpired that none of the properties were licensed correctly for HMO usage, 

To add insult to injury, all of Cunningham’s tenants were vulnerable and, without the council’s intervention, very little would have been done to improve living conditions in the properties. 

Courts issued a £100,000 fine for the litany of errors, as well as an additional £15,000 in costs to the council, and a (minimal) £181 statutory victim surcharge.

Councillor Adam Brown said that he hoped ‘this prosecution is a warning to all rogue landlords as our housing team are committed to making renting safer for our residents and stopping rogue and criminal landlords. This case demonstrates that we will act when members of the public contact us with their concerns.’

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