HOUSES IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION LANDLORDS PROSECUTED - <<Back

Unlicensed Watford HMO costs landlord couple £30,000 A married couple prosecuted by Watford Borough Council for running an unlicensed house in multiple occupation were ordered to pay fines and costs totalling over £30,000 by Magistrates.

Mr. Shah and his wife Mrs. Geeta Shah of Falcon Way, Harrow bought a four storey house located on Stratford Road, Watford in late 2007 and converted it into an HMO accommodating 12 people.

Environmental Health Officers requested Mr. Shah (who presented himself as the person responsible for managing the house) to licence the property on numerous occasions from March 2008. When it was later discovered that Mrs. Shah was, in fact, the registered owner she was subsequently also asked to licence the property. Although some works were undertaken at the property to improve the safety of the house, including the installation of a fire alarm system, the couple still failed to apply for the required licence.

The continual failure to apply for the licence led the council to take legal proceedings against the couple. Both appeared at Hemel Hempstead magistrates Court on 28 April 2010 charged with having control of and/ or managing an HMO without a licence.

Mr. Shah pleaded guilty to both charges and, taking account of his early plea, was fined £4,500 for each offence and ordered to pay £5,000 towards the prosecution's costs.

Mrs. Shah pleaded not guilty, the basis of her defence being that she left the running of the HMO to her husband and was unaware of the situation. Evidence showed that her mortgage was being serviced by the rental income and that she had been aware of the Council's requests to licence. Accordingly, Mrs. Shah was also found guilty of both charges and was fined £5,000 for each offence. She was also ordered to pay £6,169 towards the prosecution's costs.

The case highlights the ongoing successes which councils across the country are having in dealing with rogue landlords, and clearly shows that avoiding licensing costs landlords dearly.

Slough landlord fined for unlicensed HMO; tenant fined for providing false information Mr Nasir Mehmood, the owner of 130 Spackmans Way, Slough Berkshire, had failed to license the property, despite several written reminders by Slough's Private Sector Housing Enforcement Team during the latter part of 2008 and the early part of 2009.

Council officers visited the property on three occasions and determined that it was a licensable HMO. On each occasion, Mr Mehmood denied that the house was an HMO and, in June 2009, returned a Section 16 form showing a Mr Akhter and his family to be the sole occupants, and that the house was in single occupation.

Mr Akhter had also, returned a Section 16 form earlier in June showing the property to be occupied by Mr Akhter and his family in single occupation.

Slough Borough Council prosecuted landlord Mr Nasir Mehmood of 18 Blenheim Road, Slough Berkshire, for operating a licensable HMO at 130 Spackmans Way without the required licence. Mr Mehmood pleaded not guilty. He was convicted by the magistrates of the following:

Section 72 Housing Act 2004, having control of a HMO and not having a HMO licence, Section 238 Housing Act 2004, providing the local housing authority with false information. Section 16 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, providing false information on the S16 form.

Mr Mehmood was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £2,330 plus victims surcharge of £15. His failure to licence the property cost Mr Mehmood £7,345 in total.

The tenant, Mr Mohammed Akhter (also of an address in Slough), was prosecuted for providing false information about the occupation of the house. He pleaded not guilty, but was convicted by the Magistrates as follows:

Section 16 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, providing false information on the S16 form.

Mr Akhter was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £420 plus a victims surcharge of £15. Providing false information about the occupation of the property cost the tenant £2,435 in total.

The case highlights the ongoing successes councils across the country are having in bringing rogue landlords to account. It shows landlords that failing to licence will cost them financially. The case is also a warning to tenants who might seek to deceive the council that they could be prosecuted and fined as well

 

 

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