What can happen?
Enforcement will principally be by fire and rescue authorities, although local authorities may enforce the requirements in certain specified situations, where they maybe responsible for ensuring public safety by monitoring compliance with the law and, where necessary, enforcing the requirements of the new legislation.
Fines, are usually imposed on offence of the regulation, and can also be an accumulation of offences. This can lead to court cases, convictions, and prison sentences, for the “responsible person”.
In terms of enforcement a notice may be served if the enforcing authority believes that the responsible person or any other person with duties under the RRO 2005 and/or Housing Act 2004, have failed to comply. A prohibition notice may be served if the enforcing authority believes that the use of the premises involves or will involve a risk to relevant persons that is so serious that such use should be prohibited or restricted. Failing to comply with the requirements of the RRO where the failure places people at risk of death or serious personal injury in case of fire or failing to comply with any requirement imposed by an enforcement notice is an offence and may result in a fine or even imprisonment.
Regulations regarding the management of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) impose duties on managers and occupiers of HMOs (except converted blocks of flats) whether they licensed or not.
The regulations impose duties on managers of HMOs to:
- Provide contact details to each household and have them on display
- Ensure that all means of escape from fire are maintained and kept free from obstruction, all fire precautions are maintained and that steps are taken to protect occupants from injury
- Maintain water supply and drainage
- Ensure annual gas safety checks are carried out, and electrical installations are checked every five years, and the manager must not unreasonably cause any interruption to gas or electricity supply
- Maintain in repair and keep clean all common parts and installations, and ensure common parts have adequate lighting
- Ensure each unit and furniture are clean at the start of each occupation and maintain the internal structure and installations in each letting
- Provide adequate waste storage facilities and ensure that there is appropriate collection of waste.
The penalty on summary conviction, for each separate offence, is a fine. In considering a prosecution for a breach of the management regulations, Coventry City Council will also consider whether to take action under Part 1 Housing Act 2004.
Coventry City Council can:
- Impose a civil penalty of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution
- Apply to a First-tier Tribunal for a banning order where the landlord (or agent) has been convicted
- Deploy a ‘rent repayment order’ where a civil order is made by the tribunal requiring a landlord to pay back housing benefit public funds received when they managed or were in control of an unlicensed HMO.
- More serious breaches will result in a prison sentence.
Furthermore complications in this area may lead to serving a Sec 21 or Sec 8 notice becoming invalid, and insurances being null & avoid due to mis-management of HMO’s.