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Enforcement efforts see councils hammer London landlords with fines totalling £1m in 2021

INCREASED enforcement efforts by local councils have seen fines for London’s errant landlords and letting agents rake in over £1 million in less than a year, according to a report from landlordzone.

Geospatial technology firm Kamma have released data that shows penalties have increased by £600,000 in the last four months. Kamma also reported a massive 532% increase in fines between May and July as local authorities embarked on post-lockdown enforcement.

Since the start of 2021, it has seen an average increase of £89,670 in fines month on month.

Camden council has topped the enforcement league table as the most active in terms of number of fines, it is closely followed by Newham and Southwark councils. Hammersmith and Fulham is now the London borough with the highest average fines of £19,800, followed by Hillingdon with an average of £13,500, and Hackney with £11,250.

Landlords and letting agents face fines of up to £30,000 for failing to comply with safety and licensing regulations, and additional fines of up to £5,000 per property for non-compliance with MEES regulations.

Latest news from UK Gov:  Rent, mortgage payments and possession proceedings

The Coronavirus Act 2020 provided protection to social and private tenants by delaying when landlords can evict tenants. The provisions in the Act increased the notice periods landlords were required to provide to tenants when seeking possession of a residential property between 26 March 2020 and 30 September 2021. Between 1 June 2021 and 30 September 2021, notice periods were required to be at least four months except in the most serious cases such as egregious rent arrears or anti-social behaviour..

From 1 October 2021, all notice periods will return to the pre-pandemic position. This means the minimum period of notice which must be given under section 21 is two months and, where a section 8 notice is relied upon, the minimum notice period will depend on the ground(s) on which possession is sought.

The stay on possession proceedings, which was a separate measure imposed to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, expired on 20 September 2020 and all landlords are now able to progress their possession claims through the courts. Courts will carefully prioritise the most egregious cases, such as those involving anti-social behaviour and other crimes.

Legislation preventing bailiff enforcement of evictions has also now expired. This measure was in place from 17 November 2020 until 31 May 2021. Orders can now be enforced where the landlord has a valid warrant of possession. However, bailiffs must provide 14 days’ notice of an eviction and have been asked not to carry out an eviction if they are made aware that anyone living in the property has COVID-19 symptoms or is self-isolating.

The government has published new guidance for landlords and tenants on the possession action process through the courts.

The Financial Conduct Authority has issued separate guidance covering mortgage repossessions.