Weekly landlord news digest: Issue 16

Property industry news moves quickly! Here at Hamilton Fraser we know how important it is for landlords to keep up with the latest stories. With this in mind, our weekly news digest helps to bring you the highlights that matter!

In this week’s edition, we focus on the students who successfully took their HMO landlord to court for breach of licence, highlight some words of warning surrounding the Tenant Fees Act and take a look at the announcement that the Scottish government is to invest £30 million in build to rent homes.

Students win £15,000 rent refund from landlord

Students sharing an unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO) have been awarded a £15,000 rent refund after their landlord failed to acquire a licence for the property and was convicted in court of renting out the shared home without a licence.

One student, Ben Leonard, 23, was inundated on Twitter with more than 80,000 likes and hundreds of calls for help from other tenants who felt they had suffered at the hands of bad landlords after posting the caption, “Just took our ex-landlord to court and won all our rent back.”

“I’d be lying if I said the money wasn’t a motivating factor but we all share similar political beliefs and don’t think housing should be commodified,” he said.

Read more about your obligations as a landlord, including property licensing in our legislation guide.

“If private individuals are going to profit off property, we’ve at least got to hold them accountable when they do bad things. It wasn’t a personal vendetta against the landlord – he just broke the rules.”

– Ben Leonard, tenant

Tenant Fees Ban – agents advised not to find ways around the ban

“If you’re trying to find ways around the ban, I can assure you that there are no loopholes. It is not worth trying to breach the ban. There will be a fine of £5,000 for the first offence and then either £30,000 for second and subsequent offences or criminal prosecution, which is an unlimited fine and a banning order.”

– David Cox, CEO ARLA | Propertymark

Agents have been advised by ARLA|Propertymark CEO, David Cox, not to try and find ways around the tenant fees ban as the 1 June deadline approaches.

Instead he advised that agents should assume that all charges are banned unless stated specifically as permitted payments under the legislation. The Tenant Fees Act 2019 means that landlords and agents in England will be prohibited from charging letting fees to tenants.

The ban follows other laws bringing in mandatory client money protection and signing up with an independent complaints redress adjudicator.