A lettings agency claiming to be a members' club has been fined more than £40,000.
Lifestyle Club LSC has fallen short of the tenant fees ban, the club sought to imply that its members are licensees rather than tenants. The club offered flexibility in terms of accommodation to its residents and asked for a joining fee of £200 and a refundable membership fee of one month’s rent. In some cases, tenants were not given the opportunity to view properties.
The terms and conditions included the allowance for agents to enter the property without notice at any time and banned visits from non-members. There was also the requirement for the tenants to maintain and replace appliances out of their own pocket and there were fines for breaches of the terms and conditions such as fines for leaving dirty dishes in the sink. The notice period was also just 7 days.
Falling short of the law
Lifestyle Club LSC was also fined £22,299 back in January by Camden Council for failure to adhere to their HMO licensing responsibilities. The property inspector found one of the properties inspected to have a lounge that has been poorly converted into two additional bedrooms with visible wiring and only one smoke alarm in a property occupied by five residents. The other property had four bedrooms with seven residents with inadequate fire precautions. Camden Council served statutory notices to both Lifestyle Club and the property owner asking them to provide detail about who was involved in the control and management of the properties. Neither Lifestyle Club limited, or the landlords involved with the case responded. The case was heard in January and the three defendants were found guilty.
The judge made the following comments
“I consider the defendants to have high culpability and this was a case of medium harm based on risk to the tenants because of the poor state of the two properties.
“This was a cost-cutting exercise by the defendants. They did not apply for licences to avoid an inspection which would have resulted in expense to bring the properties up to standard.
“Defects in the properties included inadequate fire detection, poor quality partition walls, no kitchen door, dampness and mould.
“The tenants were from abroad and the most in need. They were given membership agreements instead of tenancy agreements to try and curtail their rights.
“The obstruction of the local authority by not returning the statutory notices was deliberate and a commercial decision to try and frustrate the investigation by EHO’s.”
Lifestyle Club have been listed on the rogue landlord checker which can be found here.
David is an authorised High Court Enforcement Officer and our Director of Corporate Governance