17:41 PM, 7th November 2011, About 10 years ago 6
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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