The recent case of a landlord being fined more than two years of their income for running an unfit property is a lesson to landlords to follow the rules.
The owner of a property in Lincoln, which was rented out as a house in multiple occupation (HMO), has been convicted and fined for running her rental property without a licence and under “dangerous”conditions for the seven tenants living there.
The four-bedroom property was occupied by seven unrelated immigrants who were found to speak little English and were unaware of their rights. There was no tenancy agreement in place, and no rent book or receipts were issued during their tenancy.
Fire safety hazards throughout the house
Among the list of breaches found in the property was a lack of fire doors and fire alarms, which are a necessity in any rental property with particular rules applying to HMOs. The stairs were reported to be painted gloss black, presenting a slip hazard to the occupants, and the kitchen facilities were deemed inadequate for the number of people living in the property. One bedroom also had a large gap in the door which would have further exacerbated a fire, while three bedroom doors also had padlocks, which would have hindered escape for the inhabitants.
All of the issues reported would have put the tenants at extreme risk in the event of a fire or emergency, according to reports. What’s more, the problems would have only cost the landlord an estimated £6,000 to put right.
Not fair to those who pay licence fees
The fine from the City of Lincoln Council amounted to £40,000, the second largest amount ever charged for housing offences in the area. Over the two years the landlord had owned the property, she made around £1,480 in rent per month, adding up to around £35,520 in total.
Cllr Donald Nannestad, portfolio holder for Quality Housing at City of Lincoln Council, said: “We’re extremely pleased to bring another case to justice as part of our ongoing battle to crack down on rogue landlords in Lincoln.
“This property was dangerous and as a council, we will not allow landlords to ignore their legal responsibilities, even if they refuse to engage with us. We have a statutory duty to ensure HMO properties are compliant with standards, and this is with good reason.”
He added that most landlords had proactively applied for HMO licences since the new regulations came in a year ago, and the landlord’s actions were “not fair to those who comply with the law and pay their licence fees”.
Make sure you know the rules
If you’re a landlord or hoping to invest in rental property in the future, whether that be HMO or individual let, it is crucial to keep up to date with the rules and regulations in place. Last year, HMO regulations changed across the UK, with local variations depending on the local authority.
Despite the publicity around rogue landlords across the media, they are in the minority compared to the vast numbers of law-abiding landlords across the UK who run high standard buy-to-lets for their tenants.