Another HMO Landlord added to our “rogue Landlord” feature, a useful guide of how not to go about managing a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) and multi let portfolio.
HMO Landlord Khaled Ahmed, 36, failed to attend Luton Magistrates Court on 15 October where he was ordered to pay nearly £53,000 for operating an unlicensed, unsafe and overcrowded House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO).
This Luton HMO Landlord has gone for the hat-trick by managing a unsafe, overcrowded and unlicensed House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and following a number of complaints from tenants living at the property at 35 Dunraven Avenue, officers from the Council’s Private Sector Housing team carried out an inspection of the eight-bedroom, four-storey house where a number of health and safety breaches were found the most serious being structure altered internally causing a number of potentially fatal fire safety hazards.
This rogue HMO Landlord provided poorly sub-divided rooms to gain additional smaller bedrooms so more people could live there. One bedroom measured just five square metres as well as a young female student living in the attic space, which could only be accessed by an unstable staircase, without windows, ventilation or heating. Other hazards related to obstructed fire exits, accumulations of rubbish, lack of fire doors, and lack of fire alarms and disrepair to the property.
The Magistrate described the property as a ‘death trap’ run for commercial gain and convicted Mr Ahmed for all breaches.
Mr Ahmed was fined £15,000 for failing to licence the property, a further £4,000 for each of the nine breaches of the Management of House in Multiple Occupation Regulations 2006 which totalled a further £36,000 and a £15 victim surcharge. The Council was also awarded £1,957 costs. Total fines and costs amounted to £52,957 which is one of the highest fines recorded in Luton.
As a further consequence the tenants can apply to the Residential Property Tribunal for a Rent Repayment Order to claim back all rent paid for the past 12 months.
When handing out the fines, the Court also took into account that Mr Ahmed had taken over £22,500 in rent and deposits from tenants.
Cllr Tom Shaw, Portfolio Holder for housing, said: “This is one of the worse cases we have ever seen with tenants being subjected to dangerous and potentially life threatening conditions. What makes it worse is that the actions of the landlord were deliberate and purely for commercial gain.
“I am glad that substantial fines were imposed, as this serves as a strong warning to any other landlord who thinks they can get away with this illegal behaviour. HMOs need to be licensed to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of the occupants and to prevent them living in overcrowded conditions with insufficient facilities.”
“The Council takes the condition of the private rented sector very seriously and we have recently embarked on a programme of inspecting all Houses in Multiple Occupation within Luton. We will not hesitate to take further court action should any other offences be committed.”
Anyone living near or knowing of such a property which they believe to be an unlicensed HMO should contact the council on 01582 54 72 22 or email HMO.Hotline@luton.gov.uk.
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