Unlicensed HMO landlord fined over £7,000

A landlord has been fined over £7,000 for renting out an unsafe and unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO).

South Gloucestershire Council’s Private Sector Housing Team issued the landlord a Civil Penalty Notice after a number of HMO offences were identified at a three-storey semi-detached property in Filton housing five people.

The Private Sector Housing team were first alerted to the property in January 2021 when council tax searches indicated that it was occupied by five people as a HMO although no HMO licence had been applied for.

The team carried out an inspection which confirmed that the property was being occupied as a HMO and also identified a number of potentially dangerous defects. Council officers additionally discovered that the attic room was being used as a bedroom, which was particularly hazardous due to the steep ladder style stairs which provide access to the room and inadequate smoke detection in the premises.

An assessment using the Housing, Health & Safety Rating System under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 confirmed that there were Category 1 hazards for Fire and Falls on Stairs, so a Civil Penalty Notice including a financial penalty of £7,018 was progressed by the Private Sector Housing team.

Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Environment and Strategic Infrastructure Cllr Steve Reade said: “I’m very pleased to see this penalty and fine issued to the landlord, who showed no regard for the safety of the people who rented this property.

“The licensing of HMOs enables the Council to check conditions and take action where housing and management standards are not met. In addition, checks are made to ensure licence holders and persons involved in the management of the properties are fit and proper to do so. Failing to licence a property as in this case, can put the health and safety of tenants at risk.

“Where we identify unlicensed HMOs our Private Sector Housing Team will look to prosecute or use Civil Penalties against the owners or managers. Our message to the landlords of HMOs is simple; licence your properties before we find them.”

South Gloucestershire has approximately 520 licensed HMOs which are well managed and provide good quality accommodation for professionals and students.

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