Council wins victory over negligent landlord

By on 19/02/2010 in News

Birmingham City Council has successfully prosecuted a private landlord who failed to obtain House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licences from the council.

Mr George Lindsay (45) of Minstead Road, Erdington pleaded guilty at Birmingham Magistrates Court on 18 February 2010 for failing to apply for HMO licences for two of his properties in Erdington and was fined £2,500 plus court costs of £675.

Since April 2006, there has been a requirement to licence houses of three storeys or more, occupied by 5 or more tenants, who have no family connection and share amenities such as a bathroom or kitchen.

The licence covers basic standards of housing and includes means of escape from fire to ensure safe housing for tenants in the private rented sector.

Following a domestic fire at one of Mr Lindsay's properties in June 2009 the fire service prohibited the use of the second floor of his property, which had been let to tenants.

Mr Lindsay has never applied for a HMO licence for that property or his second property, despite several attempts by Birmingham City Council to contact Mr Lindsay on a number of occasions since the fire.

When Mr Lindsay continued to evade the council, Birmingham City Council began legal proceedings against him.

Following the court ruling, Mr Lindsay has agreed to comply with the legislation and will no longer let any of his properties to more than four tenants at any one time. He turned down the opportunity to apply for a licence which would have allowed him to let the property to five or more tenants.

Cllr John Lines, Cabinet Member for Housing said, “I take a very dim view of landlords who fail to take matters such as fire safety seriously and am delighted by the court's ruling.

“The council has now licensed over 1300 properties and I recognise there are many good landlords Birmingham but there is no room for landlords who fail to comply with the law and put their tenants' lives at risk.”

Landlords who think their houses meet the criteria are being encouraged to call the HMO Licensing Helpline on 303 4009 as soon as possible or visit the council's website for advice and guidance about licensing requirements.

The council’s HMO licensing team has carried out proactive inspections to over 200 licensed HMOs over the course of the last year to ensure compliance.

The council is now considering making an application for a Rent Repayment Order against Mr Lindsay.

Ends

Notes to editors
1. The Housing Act 2004 places a duty on local authorities to implement a mandatory licensing system for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), which pose the greatest health and safety risks to tenants. Under the Act, there will be three types of licensing of HMOs for properties that are covered: Compulsory – 3 or more storeys high, have five or more people in more than one household and share amenities such as bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities. Additional - A discretionary power that council may decide to apply to a particular type of HMO, or example, two story properties occupied by three or more students or asylum seekers. Selective - licensing of other residential accommodation. Example where there is low demand for housing and/or antisocial behaviour.

2. Local Authorities also have the provision to extend licensing control to cover lower risk HMOs or selective licensing of private rented dwelling where the council considers it will benefit tenants and communities, in areas of low demand and/or areas with problems of anti-social behaviour.

3. The Rent Repayment Order (RRO) is a powerful enforcement tool for tackling unlicensed Houses of Multiple Occupation. The Residential Property Tribunal has the power to make a RRO requiring the landlord of an unlicensed HMO to repay up to 12 months rent to the tenants or to the Local Housing Authority where housing benefit has been paid.

4. For more information about HMO licensing visit: http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/hmo

5. To report an unlicensed HMO via email send a message to houprs@birmingham.gov.uk

Further information from Belinder Kaur Lidher on 0121 303 6969

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