A landlord duo in London have been ordered to pay their tenants £12,500 after it was discovered that they had failed to licence their property under a selective licensing scheme.
The tenants, Amanda and Miroslav Jesensky, rented the property in East London for nearly ten years. During that time, two successive selective licensing schemes were in operation in the area. The schemes were promoted by the council via advertising, mail-shots, and information on the council's website.
The landlords, Mohammed and Ghazala Butt, claimed that they were not aware of the licensing schemes and that the council had failed to inform them of their duty to licence the property. However, the judges at the Property Tribunal hearing rejected this argument, stating that "ignorance of the law is no defence" in cases of rent repayment orders.
The judges also pointed out that "becoming a landlord is a serious undertaking" and that landlords have a responsibility to familiarize themselves with the legal requirements to which they are subject. They added that landlords "are not entitled to keep quiet and wait until the local authority catches up with them."
The Jesenskys' original claim was for nearly £16,000, but this was reduced to £12,500 by the judges. The landlords were also given until August 10th to appeal the decision. This case serves as a reminder to all landlords that they have a responsibility to comply with the law. If you are unsure about whether your property is required to be licensed, you should contact your local council for more information.
What does this mean for landlords?
- This case sends a clear message to landlords that they must be aware of the legal requirements that apply to them. If you fail to comply with the law, you could be ordered to pay your tenants compensation, as well as legal fees.
- It is therefore important to make sure that you are familiar with the relevant legislation and that you take steps to comply with it. You should also keep records of your compliance, so that you can prove to the council that you have met your obligations.
- If you are unsure about whether your property is required to be licensed, you should contact your local council for more information. They will be able to advise you on the specific requirements that apply in your area.
How can I protect myself as a landlord?
There are a number of things that you can do to protect yourself as a landlord:
- Make sure that you are familiar with the relevant legislation and that you take steps to comply with it.
- Keep records of your compliance.
- Contact your local council for advice on the specific requirements that apply in your area.
- Use a letting agent who is familiar with the law and who can help you to comply with the requirements.
- Get professional advice from a property professional if you are unsure about anything.
By taking these steps, you can help to protect yourself from being ordered to pay compensation to your tenants. If you have any questions feel free to drop me a line and I can tell you all about licensing in your local area!