Council prosecutes rogue HMO landlords
Published Tuesday 17th July 12 in Council - news and information releases news
Two landlords of Southend houses in multiple occupation (HMO’s) are counting the cost of flouting the law.
At Southend Magistrates Court on Wednesday 11th July, Mr Sukhbir Singh Sandhu, 57, of Cranley Road, Westcliff, was convicted of running an unlicensed HMO in York Road, Southend.
Mr Sandhu did not attend Court or submit any mitigation, so he was found guilty in his absence, fined £1,500, plus £270 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
The York Road property is on three storeys with one ground floor self-contained flat, plus nine bedsits sharing one bathroom with WC. one shower room and one separate WC.
Under the Housing Act 2004, such HMO's must be licensed, and Local Authorities must take steps to ensure that licence applications are made.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council was in regular contact with Mr Sandhu from November 2011 and made him well aware of his legal obligations.
However, despite the guidance given, he continued to issue multiple tenancies within the property - bringing it into the mandatory licensing scheme.
In addition to the fine and costs incurred, Mr Sandhu must now apply for an HMO licence nominating an independent third party to be the both licence holder and the person in control of this property.
The Council also has the power to apply to the Residential Property Tribunal for a Rent Repayment Order (RRO).
This could re-claim all Housing Benefit paid for accommodation at the property during the period when the offence was committed.
At Southend Magistrates Court on Wednesday 11th July, Mrs Kathleen Mary Beechey, 66, of Andrew Street Properties Ltd, Sebastian Avenue, Shenfield, admitted failing to comply with conditions on an HMO licence for a four storey property in London Road, Westcliff.
This has commercial premises on the ground floor, with a three-storey HMO above comprising six bedsits, two with en-suite shower on each floor, each sharing a W.C. with a wash hand basin.
Mrs Beechey was given one month from the date of her HMO licence to supply a fire alarm test certificate and emergency lighting test certificate, a Portable Appliance Test certificate, and the Electrical Inspection Report, covering the safety of the electrical power and lighting installation.
All these documents are required to prove that the property is safe for occupiers and their visitors, and the Council should have received the paperwork by 20th January this year.
In February, Council staff contacted the fire alarm company directly to check that the fire alarm and emergency lighting were working satisfactorily, but no other documents were received.
Following this court case Mrs Beechey can no longer hold the licence for the property, but must apply for an HMO licence nominating an independent third party to hold the licence and control this property.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council's Executive Councillor for Adult Social Care, Health and Housing, Councillor Lesley Salter said: "We take the safety of tenants in rented accommodation very seriously indeed.
"It is essential for landlords to uphold their responsibilities to ensure that their properties offer safe, healthy and hazard-free accommodation. Otherwise - as these cases show - we will not hesitate to take the necessary action."