An owner and an agent who failed to ensure that a property rented to vulnerable people had adequate fire precautions and who failed to keep the property in good repair were each fined and have to pay Â£16,508 between them for failing to obtain a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence and breaching HMO management regulations at Birmingham Magistrates Court today (14 November 2014).
Iqbal Hamoodi Fakir, age 62, of Sandford Road in Moseley, and Hillcrest Housing Limited of Stratford Road in Sparkhill, failed to indicate the escape route or display the contact details of the manager.Â The property in Yardley also had missing handrails, a defective bathroom door which shut occupants inside, loose steps on the stairs, no refuse bins and uneven surfaces in the yard.Â Iqbal Hamoodi Fakir was fined Â£4,000 with Â£2,134 costs and a victim surcharge of Â£120.Â Hillcrest Housing Limited was fined Â£8,000 with Â£2,134 costs and a victim surcharge of Â£120.
Birmingham City Councilâ€™s cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr John Cotton, said: â€œHad Mr Fakir or Hillcrest Housing applied to the council for an HMO licence from the onset then council officers would have been aware of this multiple occupancy and could have ensured that the house complied with government regulations designed to safeguard tenants.Â By avoiding the licence and checks, Mr Fakir and Hillcrest Housing put their tenantsâ€™ wellbeing at risk and I welcome the fines imposed by Birmingham Magistrates Court.
â€œToo often tenants are fearful of losing their homes when they tell us about law-breaking landlords.Â In this case we were able to proceed with minimal involvement from the tenants, using their housing benefit as evidence to prove that rent was paid by five or more tenants, and thereby minimising the inevitable stress that these prosecutions can bring.Â I would urge anyone in similar circumstances to contact us as we may be able to proceed in a similar way.
â€œThe council has over 1,600 licensed properties which demonstrates that most landlords are responsible and law abiding, however the councilâ€™s HMO Licensing Team will continue to enforce the law where necessary and have had a number of successful prosecutions in the courts.â€
Landlords who are unsure of the licensing requirement should telephone 0121 303 4009 or visit http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/hmo
Since April 2006, there has been a requirement to license houses of three storeys or more, occupied by five or more tenants in two or more households, who share an amenity such as a bathroom or kitchen.
The House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence ensures that management standards and housing conditions in the private rented sector are maintained and includes a requirement for basic safety including gas, electrical and means of escape from fire.
A tenant living in a bedsit house of three or more storeys is almost 17 times more likely to be killed in a fire than an adult living in a similar single-occupancy house (fire risks in HMOs â€“ DETR 1997).
For further media information or to arrange an interview with Cllr Cotton, contact Debbie Harrison on 303 4476
Notes to editors â€“
Failure to obtain a HMO licence for the property carries a maximum fine of Â£20k.Â Breaches of the HMO Management Regulations carry a maximum fine of Â£5k per breach of regulation.
A first application for a HMO licence costs Â£700 – Â£1,150 for up to five years which amounts to a cost to the landlord of less than Â£5 a week.Â The renewal of a licence is at a reduced cost.