Landlord fines: the risk of renting an unfit property
Landlords can face heavy fines as well as prohibition orders if their property is found to be poorly maintained or unsafe. Issues can include dangerous electrics and ignoring gas safety or fire regulations. Damp and mould, plus poorly fitting or rotten doors and windows, can also be factors leading to prosecution. Inadequate plumbing, infestation, defective locks, structural damage and dangerous stairs, ceilings or windows have also been cited in improvement notices.
Prosecution can follow if a landlord is found guilty of failing to comply with an improvement notice, following a visit from the council. The resulting fines can potentially add up to tens of thousands of pounds, plus court costs and a victim surcharge. In addition to an improvement notice, a prohibition order may be placed on a property, banning the landlord from renting it out until improvements are made. This could happen even if a landlord was unaware of the hazards in their property.
Breaking the prohibition order can lead to further fines and in worse case scenarios there can be imprisonment involved. The landlord is also losing money as their property is standing empty. The damage to their reputation can also hinder them in finding new tenants. For this reason, it’s vital that properties are well maintained, with regular inspections, and that all current legal requirements are rigorously adhered to. It is also worth noting that if a tenant cites issues with a property and they are not rectified or remedied quickly a landlord may struggle to evict a tenant further down the line.
Even conscientious landlords can find themselves facing legal proceedings if they are falsely accused by their tenants. The tenants could allow a property to fall into disrepair by their own actions and then use this as ammunition in a grievance against their landlord. Even if the landlord is ultimately exonerated, the costs of defending themselves can add up, especially if they are unable to receive income from rent during this period. Then, of course, there is the cost of repairing the damage.
We can see then that legal expenses insurance is essential for all landlords, even if they scrupulously maintain all of their rental properties. Alan Boswell Group’s unique landlords’ legal expenses policy is a comprehensive insurance policy that covers almost any legal difficulties a landlord is likely to encounter with their tenants. It is available in conjunction with a let home insurance policy or as stand-alone cover.
Keeping rented properties safe and in a fit state is a moral as well as a legal duty. However, comprehensive insurance is still necessary in case you unwittingly fall foul of the law or are wrongly accused. For more information, speak to one of our team today.