Letting Unlicensed HMO is a Crime, According to Judge

Letting Unlicensed HMO is a Crime, According to Judge

17:41 PM, 7th November 2011, About 12 years ago 6

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A London council has won a criminal compensation order against a letting company who failed to licence a house in multiple occupation.

In what is believed to be a landmark case, Newham Council claimed rent paid to the company, Sumal & Sons Properties, of Stamford Hill, was a criminal benefit as the property did not have an HMO licence.

A judge at Inner London Crown Court agreed with the argument and awarded £12,000 fines, costs and compensation for rent paid while the property was let without a licence.

Generally, compensation for rent is backdated for the 12 months in a tribunal following conviction for running a property without an HMO licence. In this case, the council chose to make a claim under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The company was fined £2,000, £4,000 in costs and ordered to repay £6,500 in rent. Magistrates found the company guilty in the absence of the directors and sent the case for sentence at the crown court.

Newham mayor Sir Robin Wales said: “We will never accept private sector tenants being directly exploited by landlords who force them to live in dangerous and unacceptable conditions.

“Good landlords have nothing to fear. For the bad ones, this a clear message they must clean up their act.”

Meanwhile, Abdul Bashir, 53, was ordered to pay more than £20,000 for breaching fire safety in flats above the restaurant where he worked in Norwich.

Bashir must pay £4,500 for four fire safety charges and costs of £2,200.

He pleaded guilty to the offences at Norwich Magistrates Court.

Otis Hernandez, private sector housing officer for Norwich City Council, said: “The result sends out an important message to people that the council will take action against those whose negligence puts others at risk. That a fine so close to the maximum was handed out demonstrates the seriousness of these offences.”

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Ben Reeve-Lewis

20:07 PM, 7th November 2011, About 12 years ago

Remember Shelter are leaning on council's to do this with Grant Shapps backing. Licensing was brought in because of concerns over safety in mutliple occupied buildings and quite right too. There is no excuse for not complying and prosecutions will grow. Doing landlords for not licensing HMOs is a poltical housing hot potato, especially in Newham, who are looking to make their name in this sphere.

Councils get more funding from government for performing well and one of the performance indicators is prosecution of unlicensed HMOs.

The proceeds of crime route was explored fairly recently by Liverpool council, expect more of these

Mary Latham

21:28 PM, 7th November 2011, About 12 years ago

Birmingham City Council reclaimed a full years rent, paid through benefits, last year when they found that the property did not have an HMO licence.

I have never accepted that licensing makes any difference to the life of tenants who live in HMO's but the fact is that this is primary legislation and landlord cannot expect to be paid from the public purse if they are breaking the law.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

21:39 PM, 7th November 2011, About 12 years ago

Yep, Rent repayment Orders (RROs) I think I wrote elsewhere about these.

A tenant can claim back a years rent once a council have prosecuted for not licensing or the council can claim a year's rent back on every tenant without prosecuting for failing to licence, either way it ca cost a landlord a fortune.

Why do you not think licensing makes a diference Mary?

Mary Latham

10:37 AM, 8th November 2011, About 12 years ago

Ben "any difference to the life of tenants". It is the attitude and behaviour of the landlord that makes the difference to a tenant. If a landlord is forced to carry out improvements he may show his resentment to his tenants, even though this is nothing at all to do with the tenants. A landlord who is given information through accreditation based on education and expected to meet a code of conduct feels that he is professional and still in control. In my experience a landlord with a bad attitude can make a tenants life more miserable than sharing a toilet with one extra person, not having the staircase cleaned, struggling to find space in a fridge.

Its the difference between a volunteer and a conscript

NB I am not suggesting that landlords who let dangerous or poor standard properties should be allowed to get away with it enforcement powers should be used whether this landlord is licensed or not is irrelevant

Why do you think licensing does make a difference to the lives of tenants Ben?

15:33 PM, 8th November 2011, About 12 years ago

Mary. you are so right, have been letting out just 3 houses for the past 20 years,have always looked after my tenants, treating them as customers buying a product from me, but with all this poltical housing nonsense brought in by the previous labour Government added to by the so called Conservative Government, I am selling up, have always rented to employed people , (not the DHSS market) ,who will move out of the property if its not up to scratch.
So why all this new regulation and red tape , no wonder UK plc is in such a mess, and to Shelter who I have always supported with a monthly subscription, I am going to cancel, for they are interfering in a commercial market, not what the public gives them money to do, so beware Shelter of the backlash against you .

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

15:43 PM, 8th November 2011, About 12 years ago

Tony, I've given you the thumbs up. Not because I think selling up is the answer but for your comments about Shelter. They've raised millions to help the homeless but never laid a brick. The Salvation Army, however, can never be doubted for helping the homeless. I'll share something with you that makes Christmas very special for me, you may want to try it too. When you see a Salvation Army band playing in your local shopping centre, find the oldest collector you can find, ideally an old lady with a blue rinse. Ask her if they only accept coins and wait for the reaction. Then when she says they happily take notes, empty your wallet of all notes and squash them into the slot in her collection box. The old lady will instantly develop the energy and excitement she had at the age of 15. How do I know this? Well my Nan collected for the Salvation Army her whole life. She's long since passed now but a few years before she died this happened to her and she never forgot it and the Wednesfield Salvation Army still tell the story. Ever since she died, doing this has been my little annual tribute to her and the wonderful organisation she committed her life to. As I grew up I witnessed first hand what the Salvation Army does for the homeless.

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