Unscrupulous landlords prosecuted by City Council

By on 15/03/2013 in News

Two unscrupulous landlords have been prosecuted for their failure to license and maintain a three storey property (house in multiple occupation – HMO) in Erdington.

Landlords and cousins  Tahir Nasim, 37, of Wheelwright Road in Erdington and Khurum Eusaff Choudhry, 30, of Birch Trees Croft in South Yardley pleaded guilty at Birmingham Magistrates' Court (14 March 2013) to failing to hold a HMO licence. The pair also pleaded guilty to seven breaches of the HMO Management Regulations at their property.

Mr Nasim and Mr Choudhry were each fined £4000, a victim surcharge of £15 and costs of £1,026 totalling £5,041 each.

Evidence presented by Birmingham City Council to the court showed a catalogue of dangers at the property including:
•    a ceiling in the house in danger of collapsing
•    inoperable smoke alarms
•    the landlords running the property without an official HMO licence
•    inadequate fire precautions in the property.

Family members, Tahir and Khurum, bought 118 South Road as a business venture and rented it to tenants.

Officers from Birmingham City Council started investigating the Erdington property in 2008, but gaining hard evidence and access to the property proved difficult. Tenants appeared to be discouraged from allowing officers access into the property.  Eventually in July 2012 council officers were contacted by tenants complaining about the conditions.  Witness statements were provided confirming the landlords were operating the property without a HMO licence.

Jacqui Kennedy, Director of Regulation and Enforcement for Birmingham City Council, said: “Rogue landlords will not be tolerated in Birmingham.  Our officers worked hard on this case and will continue to bring irresponsible landlords to justice and protect tenants.

“The council is here to protect tenants and ensure that responsible landlords are supported by ensuring compliance from all landlords in the city and driving rogues out of business.”

Tenants of these Erdington properties – who can prove that they have paid their rent – can make an application for a Rent Repayment Order to the Residential Property Tribunal. The Tribunal can help to recover up to a maximum of 12 months rent paid to their landlords.

Birmingham City Council has issued over 1700 licences, demonstrating there are lots of good landlords in the city. The HMO Licensing Team will continue to enforce the law where necessary and have had a number of successful prosecutions in the Courts.  Landlords who are unsure of the licensing requirements should check the Council web site or telephone the team on 0121 303 4009.

Ends

Notes to editors
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.
•    The risk of fire in a HMO is significantly higher than in a property occupied by a family.  Since April 2006, there has been a legal requirement to license houses of three storeys or more, occupied by five or more occupiers, who have no family connection and share an amenity such as a bathroom or kitchen.

•    A HMO licence ensures that management standards and housing conditions in the private rented sector are maintained and includes requirements for basic safety including gas and electric utilities and means of escape from fire.

•    Under the Act, there will be three types of licensing of HMOs for properties that are covered: Compulsory – three 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.

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