Private landlords in Belfast are frustrated at having lost judicial review of being called 24 hours a day – and warn that those in other UK cities could suffer a similar fate.
The High Court ruled this week that it must provide an out-of-hours emergency contact number to deal with anti-social behavior and dismissed requests from the Northern Ireland Landlords Association (LANI) that they have been unreasonably burdened by the new license condition introduced as part of efforts to address harmful residents in HMOs.
The judge was referring to ongoing issues of antisocial behavior in the city, particularly near student HMOs where late-night street parties in the The Holyland area of the city is common.
LANI argued that this put landlords on call “24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year” and says it is an unworkable requirement for members with up to 100 tenants in their books.
In the middle of the night
He said owners contacted in the middle of the night could do no more than what could be done during office hours. Failure to comply may result in prosecution or removal from the HMO License Register.
However, Mr Justice Scoffield said there was no expectation of action being taken in the middle of the night to terminate leases or serve notices of resignation, instead the council was looking to leverage any influence available to residents harmful.
He added: “A landlord or agent who manages the property may have an ongoing and/or personal relationship with tenants (and/or, in the case of student tenants, their parents) which could make tenants more likely to be persuaded. moderate their behavior at the request of the owner or agent. »
A LANI spokesperson told LandlordZONE: “We are now considering launching another legal challenge on the grounds that this is a breach of our human rights, but it would cost around £50,000, which that we don’t have.” He adds: ‘The penalty for not answering your phone will be at least £2,500, but even brain surgeons will have time off. We think if they can get away with it in Belfast, it could happen in other cities.