Landlords to Face Fines for Unsafe and Overcrowded Accommodation

Many tenants (and indeed prospective landlords) assume that the life of a landlord is easy. However, the truth is that the term “passive income” is remarkably misleading. Landlords have a bevy of duties and responsibilities to their tenants. Not only must they go through the arduous process of finding the right tenants and making sure that they look after the property appropriately, they must also learn and attend to the property’s maintenance needs and keep it safe and habitable.

They must also remain conversant with complicated and ever changing legislation. Is it any wonder why so many choose the aid of landlord services to make their lives easier? Under recent legislation, landlords are much more accountable to their tenants than ever before. But in addition to maintaining safety, landlords now have one big responsibility!

Big fines for small spaces

Rogue landlords have recently been caught renting out  spaces the size of a converted cupboard (yup, Harry Potter style) to desperate tenants to capitalise on the desperation of an uncertain housing market. These unscrupulous profiteers could now face fines with no upward limit as part of a new crackdown. As of October this year, tenants living in conditions deemed to be unsafe due to their diminutive size or overcrowded will enjoy greater legal protection.

The cupboard under the stairs

A small cupboard is hardly suitable lodgings for a boy wizard, yet this summer, outrage was sparked when it was revealed that grown adults were living in conditions similar to those of the beloved literary icon.

A property advertised as a “modern small self-contained studio flat in the heart of Hampstead village”, was on offer for £1,100 per month on spareroom.co.uk. The property seemed too good to be true for such a prestigious postcode… And it was. The “studio flat” turned out to be a tiny single room with hardly four feet of space between the bed and the kitchen sink.

This is by no means an isolated incident. In the East London neighbourhood of Beckton, a four-bedroom house was discovered to house no less than 11 sleeping spaces. One of which was a tiny 3ft by 6ft understairs cupboard. Meanwhile, while bunk beds were uncomfortably forced into diminutive single rooms.

23 into 6 doesn’t go!

Forest Hill letting agent Marvel Estates were dealt a publicity black eye (and a £7,500 fine) for attempting to squeeze 23 people into a house in Gants Hill which was only licensed by the council for six sharers.

New legislation dictates that now landlords of homes rented out to 5 people or more from different households must adhere to specific minimum room sizes.

Minimum sizes

Under new laws, a child’s bedroom must measure at least 50sq ft, while a single room for a single adult must measure at least 70sq ft, while a double room must be least 110sq ft. Given that the average UK parking space is about 126sq ft, this hardly seems much to ask.

Landlords who fail to meet these requirements as well as other basic safety requirements like smoke alarms or regular checks on gas and electrical equipment, could face a fixed penalty of up to £30,000. In more serious cases, landlords could even be prosecuted and face a fine with no upward limit.

Thousands still vulnerable

While this news is encouraging, there are currently hundreds of thousands of tenants living in smaller properties which are not not protected by the new regulations, and industry experts worry that new legislation could rebound on tenants.

Now that landlords must be licensed at a cost of an average £1,200 the worry is that these costs will inevitably be passed on to tenants while it’s feared that some landlords will reduce the number of rooms they let out in order to evade the licensing system, making their tenants vulnerable to the threat of eviction.