HMO Licenses and Town & Country Planning Act Offences

25 Bedford Row’s specialist regulatory barristers are experienced in advising and defending those facing investigation or prosecution concerning breaches of HMO Licences, Housing Act offences and breaches of Town and Country Planning Act offences in local authority prosecutions in the criminal courts and before the Residential Property Tribunal.

We represent individuals, partnerships and limited companies against alleged breaches brought by local authorities and other prosecuting authorities.

In some cases, we can act on a direct access basis, allowing you to access the services of our specialists directly without having to go through a solicitor.

For expert advice and representation in all matters related to breaches of HMO licences, Housing Act offences and Town and Country Planning Act offences, as well as confiscation orders and proceedings, please call 020 7067 1500 or fill in our contact form and we will respond promptly.

Our specialist barristers’ HMO law and Town and Country Planning expertise

HMO licences & Housing Act offences

Landlords face ever changing and increasingly strict rules around the management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

HMO landlords must obtain a licence from their local authority and comply with the conditions attached. Failing to do so may result in punitive action, including criminal investigation and prosecution by the local authority.

Specialist HMO legal advice for landlords and businesses

Our specialist regulatory defence barristers at 25 Bedford Row provide pragmatic, strategic advice and representation to both individual landlords and businesses facing investigation or prosecution. Our expertise covers all types of Housing Act criminal offences associated with HMOs, including:

  • Having control or management of an HMO without a licence when required
  • Failing to comply with the conditions of an HMO licence
  • Failure to comply with HMO regulations regarding standards of management, such as:
    • Repairs and maintenance
    • Cleanliness
    • ‘Good order’ of the house and facilities and equipment in it

Seeking early advice for breaches of HMO licences and Housing Act offences is crucial.

Given the complexity of the law, it is common for landlords to unwittingly breach their legal duties or end up being prosecuted for issues that they are trying to remedy or have an excuse for.

Being convicted of an HMO offence or a breach of the Housing Acts can have harmful consequences for your life and business, so taking early legal action to defend yourself is essential.

Financial penalties for HMO and Housing Act offences include hefty fines or civil penalties which can cost a significant amount of money (unlimited if prosecuted in the Crown Court).

Conviction can also have a negative impact on the reputation of your business and make it difficult for you to continue as a landlord in future. The local authority may go as far as to obtain a banning order to prevent you from holding an HMO licence indefinitely.

Instructing our HMO law barristers at the earliest opportunity – ideally as soon as you have received notice from your local authority in relation to a suspected breach – can allow you to make a successful defence against any HMO or Housing Act prosecution or minimise the penalties.

Town and Country Planning Act Offences

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 gives local authorities various powers, such as to investigate and prosecute where an individual or business has conducted a development or a change of use of land or building without lawful authorisation.

Initially these prosecutions are heard in the Magistrates’ Court but if deemed sufficiently serious they can be committed to the Crown Court where conviction carries serious penalties.

If convicted of these offences, you may face an unlimited fine based on your financial means. For companies, the costs can be substantial, so it is crucial to get the right advice at an early stage to reduce the impact of any prosecution.

Specialist town and country planning legal advice for individuals and businesses

If you receive notice that a local authority is considering a prosecution, or you are invited to an interview in relation to non-compliance with an enforcement notice or another Town and Country Planning Act power, we recommend that you contact us so we can advise you as to next steps.

Our Town and Country Planning barristers have the experience to advise in relation to all types of enforcement powers and defend prosecutions for breaches of said powers, including:

  • Enforcement notices
  • Stop notices
  • Planning contravention notices
  • Condition notices
  • Unity land notices

We also have expertise representing clients in confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Confiscation orders and proceedings

Planning offences – such as failure to comply with an enforcement notice under the Town and Country Planning Act – and Housing Act breaches may fall within the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA). It is common for defendants to face confiscation proceedings to confiscate any assets suspected to be the proceeds of criminal conduct in addition to penalties for criminal conviction.

Confiscation proceedings involve complex, technical areas of the law and require thorough, robust and highly specialist defence.

Our barristers are reputed to be some of the leading experts in confiscation proceedings under POCA and other relevant legislation.

We have substantial experience in assisting individuals and companies to defend confiscation orders and secure proportionate outcomes. If you are facing a confiscation order, our POCA barristers will be able to quickly assess your case and provide an expert and effective defence strategy.

Accessing our barristers’ services

What is direct access?

In some cases, individuals and businesses may directly access the services of our criminal and regulatory barristers without first going through a solicitor.

Direct access – also known as public access – allows you to place your case straight into the care of a knowledgeable and highly experienced HMO, Housing Act and Town and Country Planning specialist, expediting its progress and saving you time and costs.

Can our members act via direct access?

Yes. Our specialist regulatory barristers with experience in defending private landlords and companies for related offences in the criminal courts can act on a direct access basis as well as being instructed by defence solicitors. See our direct access page for further details.

What is the process for instructing a barrister through direct access?

To instruct one of our barristers through direct access, you simply need to contact our clerks’ room. Our experienced clerks are highly skilled at building committed and effective legal teams. We will assess whether your case is suitable for public access and advise you on the next steps.

If you are not eligible for direct access, we can refer you to an experienced solicitor with the requisite expertise.

Why should I use 25 Bedford Row for advice about breaches of HMO licences, Housing Act offences and Town and Country Planning Act offences?

25 Bedford Row is home to a group of expert barristers proficient in a full range of criminal and regulatory defence matters. Members include leading defence counsel, esteemed for their ability to build a rapport with their clients and reassuringly guide their cases to positive conclusions.

Prestigious client guide, the Legal 500, describes 25 Bedford Row as ‘unrivalled as a criminal defence set’, housing ‘counsel with vast talent’. 25 Bedford Row is also highly ranked by Chambers & Partners and are particularly noted for our general Crime work and our Financial Crime expertise which encompasses our work in confiscation proceedings.

A number of our QC’s and Juniors are highly ranked and individually recommended by both the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners for their skills. Our members are notable experts within their areas of practice and also lecture and write extensively on legal and practical developments.

Beyond our members’ technical skills, we offer a sensitive understanding at what is at stake for our clients. Where certain types of proceedings are involved, particularly POCA proceedings, you could be at risk of losing everything – both financially and reputationally – and this is something we will fight to prevent. Every case we take on is treated with the same level of importance and given the attention it deserves.

Contact us about breaches of HMO licences, Housing Act offences and Town and Country Planning Act offences

For expert advice and representation in all matters related to breaches of HMO licences, Housing Act offences and Town and Country Planning Act offences, as well as confiscation orders and proceedings, please call 020 7067 1500 or use the contact form below and we will respond promptly.

They are all well drilled and relate to clients in a sophisticated manner, they are slick and present their arguments well

Legal 500


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