Housing enforcement guidance

Prosecution or civil penalty?

In relation to housing offences a banning order can only be applied for following a conviction in the courts.

Whenever the authority believes a Housing Act 2004 offence has been committed and the evidence passes the evidential stage and the public interest stage it will then be necessary to consider on a case by case basis if instigating prosecution proceedings or imposing a civil penalty is the best approach.

Factors to consider will be:

  • the seriousness of the offence, history of compliance, culpability and the harm caused
  • whether a civil penalty is likely to be sufficient to change the behaviour of the offender, if not then a banning order should be considered
  • whether the offender has a large portfolio of properties potentially putting many tenants at risk if they continue to operate with poor practices
  • information from partner agencies i.e. Staffordshire Police and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service
  • is publicity likely to act as a deterrent to others, a prosecution is in the public domain whereas a civil penalty isn't
  • which option will be the best deterrent to prevent further offences
  • whether there is a desire to apply for a 12 month rent repayment order which, following a valid application, the tribunal must order following a conviction of a rent repayment order offence
  • whether the tenant or council is also considering applying for a rent repayment order