Who Is Responsible For Compliance?
Landlords and Agents
Essentially it is the Landlord who must see that the legislation is complied with. However, the managing agent who collects rent is also responsible for ensuring that the legislation is observed.
Who handles the rent
The legislation looks to see who handles the rent from the property and whoever receives rent can be responsible.. It then uses two technical terms 'person having control' and 'person managing'. This second expression, ‘person managing’ is confusing because it is not the same as the manager of the property. If the property is held on a trust the person responsible will include the trustees. Importantly, however, it also includes any managing agent who receives the rent. Generally the Landlord will be both ‘person having control’ and ‘person managing’.
If a property is not licensed when it should be or if, in the case of an HMO license, the maximum permitted number is exceeded, the person having control and the person managing can both be prosecuted for the property.
The person managing is responsible for ensuring that the management regulations are observed.
As would be expected, the license holder also has various responsibilities under the legislation, including seeing that the license conditions are observed.
What about a letting agent
Letting agents are in a peculiarly difficult position. They are agents who arrange a let and normally only take the first month or quarters rent and the deposit. They do not manage the property. The monies received are then paid over to the landlord less commission. It is possibly even that management could be handed over to another managing agent. It is not clear whether such an agent is a 'person having control' or 'person managing'.
Any agent should check that his client has a licence, or has at least applied for one, unless he himself is to be the licence holder. Otherwise, as 'person having control' he commits the offence of operating an unlicensed property and could face a fine of up to £20,000.00.
Any agent needs to make sure not just that a licence has been granted or applied for but that the permitted number is not exceeded.
IMPORTANT: Our website (including the Unique Property Selector) can only give general guidance. You always need to specifically check the status of any property individually and take appropriate advice including general guidance from the local authority where it is located.