Multiple Occupation

February 22nd, 2024 by James Goudie KC

Welwyn Hatfield BC v Wang (2024) UKUT 24 (LC) was concerned with whether Notices of Intent to impose a financial penalty under Section 249A of the Housing Act 2004 were invalid for containing insufficient information. By para 3(a) of Schedule 13A to that Act a Notice of Intent has to  set out the “reasons” for proposing to impose the financial penalty.  The Upper Tribunal says that these reasons have to be “sufficiently clearly and accurately expressed” to enable the recipient landlord to exercise the right, conferred by paragraph 4 of Schedule 13A, to make written representations to the local housing authority about its proposal, to enable the authority to decide whether or not to impose the financial penalty, and, if so, how much.  Similarly, by para 8(b) of Schedule 13A, the final notice had to set out “the reasons for imposing the penalty”.  Those reasons too had to be sufficiently clearly and accurately expressed to enable the recipient landlord to decide whether to exercise the right to appeal to the Tribunal against the decision to impose the penalty or the amount of that penalty.  Those reasons had to be directly referable to the condition of the licence in relation to which it was said that there had been non-compliance on the landlord’s part, and they had to identify clearly and accurately the particular respects in which it was said that there had been non-compliance.  Local housing authorities had to bear firmly in mind that the imposition of a financial penalty was an alternative to a criminal prosecution, and it had to be treated with  the same level of seriousness and transparency.

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