Civil penalties (landlords)


The Council can issue fines to landlords, instead of prosecuting, for certain offences around:

  • licensing
  • overcrowding
  • management of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

These fines are known as 'civil penalties'.

Fines are between £600 and £30,000.

The amount fined depends on various factors, including the severity of the offence.

If you don't pay within the given time period, the Council will contact the County Court to recover the money. 


The proof needed to impose a penalty is the same that is needed for a criminal prosecution. 

The evidence should show beyond reasonable doubt that an offence has been committed.

A penalty cannot be imposed if

  • there has already been a conviction, or
  • a prosecution is pending for the same offence

There cannot be a conviction if

  • a civil penalty has been issued


Civil penalties can be issued, instead of prosecuting, for the following offences:

  • Failure to comply with an improvement notice (section 30 of the Housing Act 2004)
  • Offences connected to licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (section 72 of the Housing Act 2004)
  • Offences connected to licensing of Houses under part 3 of the Housing Act 2004 (section 95 of the Housing Act 2004)
  • Offences of contravention of an overcrowding notice (section 139 of the Housing Act 2004)
  • Failure to comply with management regulations connected to Houses in Multiple Occupation (section 234 of the Housing Act 2004)
  • Breach of a Banning Order (section 21 of the Housing and Planning Act 2016)
  • Breach of a duty of compliance under the Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020

A civil penalty will be issued for each individual breach of the management regulations for Houses in Multiple Occupation.

How decisions are made

Cases will be decided on an individual basis, depending on the circumstances of each case.

When deciding whether to prosecute or issue a civil penalty, and how much the fine should be, the Council will look at the following guidance:

Statutory guidance

See GOV.UK: Civil penalties under the Housing and Planning Act 2016

The Council will consider:

  • the severity of the offence
  • the culpability and track record of the offender
  • harm caused to the tenant
  • punishment of the offender
  • how to deter the offender from repeating the offence
  • how to deter others from committing similar offences
  • how to remove any financial benefit the offender may have as a result of committing the offence.

The Council's civil penalties enforcement policy

See the civil penalties enforcement policy

The policy has guiding principles so decisions are consistent, transparent, and fair.

Notice of intent and appeals

Before imposing a civil penalty, the Council must serve a notice of intent.

The notice of intent must be served:

  • no later than 6 months after the Council has sufficient evidence, or
  • at any time when the offending conduct is continuing. 

The notice must set out:

  • the amount of the fine
  • the reason for imposing the fine
  • information on the right to appeal

Appealing a notice of intent

If you are served a notice of intent, you can appeal within 28 days from the date the notice was served. 

The Council must decide whether to:

  • confirm the notice
  • increase or reduce the fine, or
  • withdraw the notice.

The Council can withdraw or change a notice of intent at any time. 

We will write to you to inform you of any changes.

Final notice and appeals

If the Council decides to issue the civil penalty, it must serve a final notice containing:

  • the amount of the fine
  • reasons for issuing the fine
  • information on how to pay the fine
  • the period in which to pay the fine (28 days from when the notice is served)
  • information on how to appeal
  • what happens if you fail to comply with the notice.

The Council can withdraw or change a final notice at any time. 

We will write to you to inform you of any changes.

Appealing a final notice

If you are served a final notice, you can appeal to the First Tier Tribunal within 28 days from the date the final notice was served. 

The appeal can be made against:

  • the Council's decision to impose a fine, and / or
  • the amount of the fine. 

The First Tier Tribunal can:

  • confirm the fine
  • increase or reduce the level of the fine, or
  • cancel the fine.

The final notice is suspended until the appeal is decided. 

For more information on appeals, see Housing Act 2004 (Schedule 13A).

Income from civil penalties

Civil penalties are not a profit-making scheme.

Income from civil penalties is used to fund enforcement activity, and supports the Council's commitment to improving standards in the private rented sector.