Agenda item

Approval of the framework for calculating the level of civil penalty charge in relation to breaches of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 and relevant Letting Agency legislation


The Director of Adult Social Care and Health Integration submitted a report, the purpose of which was to seek approval for the framework to calculate the financial penalty charges for breaches of relevant letting agency legislation by landlords, letting agents and property management companies.


The report advised that the ability to issue financial penalty charges was an alternative to prosecution and was in accordance with Public Protection Regulatory Services Enforcement Policy and follows Tenant Fees Act Statutory Guidance for enforcement authorities.


The framework has been developed in line with national guidance however, the method for calculating the financial penalty charge was not prescribed in law or by Government. It lies with local authorities to develop their own framework.


The implications of the recommendation(s) have been considered by the appropriate officers of the Council and were set out in the main body of the report. This report falls within the Terms of Reference of this Committee as the policies proposed will impact on all wards within the Borough and represents a change in the policy on the approach of enforcement. 



Other potential decision(s) and why these have not been recommended


1.     Do not introduce a civil penalty charge. If this is not introduced there would be no change to current enforcement practices in that prosecution action would be taken for offences, where appropriate. This is a time consuming process for officers and Legal Services, it can take many months or years to achieve an outcome and does not always achieve the desired results in terms of level of penalty or a deterrent.


2.     The use of civil penalties offers a reduced cost enforcement option that will act as an immediate and more effective deterrent.  This enforcement tool will address the poor management of properties and unfair business practices in the private rented sector and drive up standards and levels of compliance. The framework for calculating the level of charge will provide transparency and consistency in this approach.




1.     That the Executive approves the framework for calculating the civil penalty charges in relation to the Act and associated legislation.  



The decisions were supported by the following reasons:


1.     Using a civil penalty charge instead of prosecution is considered to deal more effectively with breaches of law, to encourage compliance, drive up standards in private rented accommodation and deter unfair practices. It also provides an alternative way for the Council to deal with criminal, rogue and irresponsible landlords, letting agents and property management companies.


2.     The Civil penalty charge can be up to £5,000 for first breaches in respect of prohibited payments, non-publication of lettings fees, transparency issues in relation to membership of redress and client money protection schemes, and up to £30,000 for subsequent breaches or for other offences including non-membership of redress or client money protection schemes.  Establishing a means for calculating the level of penalty is designed to ensure transparency, consistency and fairness. 



3.     The use of civil penalties will not remove the Council’s ability to take legal action and for the most serious breaches this option will be considered first. Any enforcement decision will be made in accordance with the Council’s Public Protection Enforcement Policy.




Supporting documents: