Prosecuting a landlord

Paul acted for the local authority in a prosecution of a landlord who had failed to obtain a licence for a property within a selective licensing area (under Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004, section 95).

The landlord claimed that she had a ‘reasonable excuse’ defence under section 95(4) in that she had managing agents who appeared to have submitted an application (as part of a bulk application) but had not been asked to pay the appropriate fee or been told that without the fee the application was invalid. The landlord had applied and paid for a licence after the date of the issue of the summons for the offence.

Following Paul’s representation of the local authority’s case, the Court found that the landlord did not have a ‘reasonable excuse’ as she had failed to contact the Council or to respond to at least two letters, sent after the date of the bulk application, requiring her to submit an application for a licence. The Landlord was convicted, given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £450 towards the Council’s costs of the prosecution.