Getting Guidance wrong and the perils of not updating legislation

MHCLG recently (April 2019) put out a guidance document called “Landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities in the private rented sector“. Under a heading “Guidance for tenants renting in the private sector: rights, responsibilities and advice”, on page 12 are the following on potential penalties for harassment by a landlord, and for illegal eviction by a landlord. Eh? Fines of £400 for harassment and for illegal eviction? This is not right. The fines are unlimited. Moreover, the maximum sentence is two years (on indictment), not six months. The same error is repeated in the MHLCG “Rogue Landlord Enforcement. Guidance for Local Authorities“, also of April 2019, on page 19 and Appendix A. Where, one might wonder, did these incorrect fines come from? And then, I’ve been told of an illegal eviction prosecution in Stoke in which the Magistrates wrongly held that they were limited to a £400 fine by legislation. It turns out…

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