A Peterborough landlord has been ordered to pay £5,300 in fines and costs after being found guilty of multiple offences relating to a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
Mohammed Ali of Padholme Road, Peterborough was found guilty at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court of six offences relating to regulations that are required to safely operate a HMO, one that was already subject to a prohibition order.
The court heard that the city's Prevention and Enforcement Service was alerted to a property on Padholme Road, following information reported to Cambridgeshire Police.
On inspection, the property was found to have been rented out to a family in breach of a prohibition order which prevented the occupation of the dwelling due to its dangerous condition.
Following this visit, police and housing officers gained entry into the property next door which from the outside displayed the hallmarks of a property in disrepair, and discovered that it was a HMO occupied by three adults and a child who were sharing a small kitchen space and a bathroom.
The property owned by Ali fell short of five out of 11 regulations that are required to safely operate a HMO.
The fire escape route was in a dangerous condition with trip hazards and electrical appliances located in the escape route, furthermore the fire alarms were not working. Occupants had to use padlocks to secure their bedrooms and the front door to the property, which in the event of an emergency could trap someone inside. Finally no valid gas safety checks or electrical safety information were available for the property and Ali was unable to provide that information upon request.
Appearing at court on December 7 2016, Ali was fined £500 for breaching the prohibition order and £500 for each of the five HMO breaches, a total of £3,000, along with the council’s costs of £2,263 and a £50 victim surcharge; a total of £5,313.
Gareth Brighton, housing enforcement officer for the Prevention and Enforcement Service, said: "Anybody taking on the role of landlord needs to be fully aware of their responsibilities under the law. The property let by Ali was considered so dangerous that the city council had no option but to serve an order prohibiting its use."
On the matter of HMO regulations, David Marshall, housing enforcement officer for the Prevention and Enforcement Service, added: "Renting a HMO requires the landlord to be aware of the rules and regulations that govern their operation and the landlord must carry out robust and frequent checks of the property to ensure it's in good health and repair. This case has proven that Ali was operating a dangerous property which had been left unmonitored by the landlord, except for rent collection, for some time."
Ali had been previously prosecuted for housing related offences; he was prosecuted for Failing to Comply with Improvement Notices in October 2014 and was fined £250 and ordered to pay £425 council costs. Ali was also prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service during the course of the previous investigation for making threats to kill a council officer for which he was given 160 hours community service and a two year restraining order.
Councillor Irene Walsh, cabinet member for environment capital and communities, added: "This case demonstrates the city council’s commitment to ensuring that people’s accommodation is fit and safe to live in and that any landlord that chooses to operate illegally will be caught and dealt with appropriately."
Owners and agents who manage private rented properties can obtain advice about current housing standards and their responsibilities from the council on 01733 747474. Tenants who believe they are living in poor housing conditions can also contact the team for advice or assistance.