Rogue landlord fails in bid to have ban overturned
A Bristol landlord who was banned from letting properties after repeatedly failing to meet the required standards has lost an appeal to overturn her ban.
Bristol City Council’s Private Housing team successfully defended the appeal from Naomi Knapp, a landlord with a large portfolio of properties in Bristol.
This was the first time The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) has heard an appeal against a banning order under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.
Knapp owns 29 properties in the city, which she lets out. The council were concerned about her management of that portfolio, and those concerns led to Knapp being prosecuted for, and pleading guilty to, eight banning order offences.
These included fire safety issues as well as poor conditions witnessed in the communal areas of the properties. She was fined £22,000 for those offences in April 2021.
The council then applied for a banning order to the First-tier Tribunal, who in August 2022, imposed a five-year ban. The order banned the landlord from letting housing, engaging in letting agency work, and engaging in property management work; giving her six-months to sort out the management of her existing tenants.
Knapp was granted permission to appeal on six grounds, and each appeal was dismissed. The original tribunal had correctly assessed the seriousness of the offences for which she had been convicted and had also correctly concluded that banning orders were capable of applying to existing tenancies, rather than applying only to the initial act of granting a tenancy.
Tom Renhard, cabinet member for housing delivery and homes, said: “This is an important case for Bristol City Council, and the first of its kind in the country. Having a safe and secure roof over our heads is key to ensuring we all have the best possible opportunity to live a happy and healthy life but, unfortunately, many renters still live in fear of spiralling costs, poor quality housing, and unfair evictions.
“We are working hard to make sure that people living in private rented accommodation have adequate protections and decent living standards. We will take action to crack down on criminal landlords who do not meet the legal requirements for a safe and secure living environment.”
The original tribunal stated that the purpose of the legislation is to remove rogue landlords from the private rented sector, and to prevent them from exploiting tenants in the future. The Tribunal was satisfied that a total fine of £22,000 was a severe sentence, and highlighted Knapp’s lack of understanding of the legal requirements.
In addition, Knapp’s failure to follow up on her proposals to improve things demonstrated her unwillingness to change matters for the better and her acceptance of the risk that her management of the properties might be below the required standard.
Any tenant who rents from Ms Knapp does not need to do anything at this point – the Banning Order does not change a renter’s legal rights and does not necessarily mean they will need to leave their properties. However, if they are concerned about their rights they should contact the council or Citizen’s Advice Bureau for support.
This is the third Banning Order the council’s Rogue Landlord Team have applied for and been granted.