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Increased HMO charges ‘should not be passed onto students’ says Fife Council

There is no need for any increase in charges for HMO (house of multiple occupancy) licenses to be passed on to students who are concerned about rent rises, Fife Council has reiterated.

Every HMO needs a licence to make sure health and safety standards are met for residents. The council has recently updated the charging structure for licenses, bringing it into line with other local authorities, and making sure the increasing costs of administering the system were not passed on to taxpayers. Fees have not been increased since 2006.

John Mills, Fife Council’s head of housing services, said: “Any suggestion that the council is somehow responsible for a rise in student rents is just scaremongering.

“Based on current figures, the University charges £21,000 for an individual student over three years. Our HMO fee for one student in that time (in an HMO of five people) is under £300. My understanding is that St Andrews University charges one of the highest residential fees in Scotland. There has to be some perspective here.”

Mr Mills added: “The new charging structure now covers the full cost of the HMO licensing service, including administration, property inspections and verification, democracy and compliance costs. We’ve moved from a flat-based fee structure to one that takes account of the number of occupants in an HMO, and the resources spent on each application through a sliding scale of charges.

“There should be no suggestion that this will lead to rent rises for students. Any rises in rent are at the discretion of the University, and there is nothing to suggest that a rise in the fees the council charges for HMO licenses should be passed on to students. Any charges are a very small proportion of the rental income received by HMO owners.

“I would urge any parents or students who are concerned about a potential rise in rents to raise this directly with the University, as the organisation deciding how much should be charged for student housing.”

Source: Scottish Housing News

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Flintshire HMO Landlord Prosecuted

A Flintshire HMO landlord has been prosecuted for several offences under legislation designed to protect tenants living in shared accommodation.

Environmental health officers at Flintshire Council visited the Flintshire House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) owned by landlord Glyn Trevor Roberts in July 2018.

The inspection revealed numerous deficiencies including no working fire alarms, no fire doors, defective electrics and inadequate bathroom amenities.

The Flintshire landlord also subsequently ignored requests made under the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Wales) Regulations 2006 to produce gas and electrical testing certificates.

An improvement notice was served by Flintshire Council under the Housing Act 2004 and a subsequent inspection found that the improvement notice had not been complied with and that the gas boiler had been condemned for safety reasons.

The council then took the matter to Wrexham Magistrates Court. Mr Roberts pleaded guilty to all six offences relating to the property – in Connaught Avenue, Shotton.

The six offences included failing to comply with an Improvement Notice, failing to register rental property, failing to obtain a licence to manage rental property and failure to supply gas and electrical test certificates.

Mr Roberts claimed to be in financial difficulties and the property was due to be sold within the next six weeks. However, he was found guilty of all six offences and in sentencing was fined £600. He was also ordered to pay a contribution of £200 to Flintshire Council’s costs.

The Flintshire landlord was told that breaches of such legislation could end in tragedy and that if it weren’t for his financial situation, the scale of the fines would have been much greater.

Flintshire Council’s chief officer for planning, environment and economy, Andrew Farrow, said: ‘This successful prosecution sends a clear message that Flintshire County Council will not tolerate the poor management of Houses in Multiple Occupation.

‘This legislation is designed to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of some of our most vulnerable residents.’

Source: Residential Landlord

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Massive £182,000 fine for buy to let investor after string of HMO offences

A buy to let investor has been found guilty of 35 HMO offences – and has to pay a total fine of £182,314.90, thought to be one of the largest penalties ever for an individual landlord.

Leila Amjadi, of Sutton Coldfield, was found guilty at Birmingham Magistrates Court of failing to obtain HMO licences and for breaches under the HMO Management Regulations.

The offences were in relation to the four properties she owned across Birmingham.

Amjadi was fined £85,000, ordered to pay full costs to the council of £22,974.90 and a victim surcharge of £170. In addition to this, she was ordered to pay a compensation order to 11 of the tenants, totalling £22,000.

Amjadi‘s company, Vertu Capital Ltd was also found guilty of 21 offences relating to two of the HMO properties in Selly Oak and was fined £52,000 plus a victim surcharge of £170.

In 2016, Birmingham council officers became aware that Amjadi’s properties were being let without the appropriate HMO licences.

She has over 10 years’ experience in the property letting industry and was well aware of her responsibility to obtain licences, having previously made HMO licence applications.

The council also received numerous complaints from occupants and local residents regarding the poor maintenance of the properties.

Following inspections by officers, 31 breaches of the HMO Management Regulations were found including missing fire blankets, fire doors that were either missing or inadequate, and smoke detectors which were hanging loose from the ceilings.

The district judge commented that, despite the significant income from her properties, Amjadi was an unscrupulous landlord who did not care for the health and safety of her tenants.

Amjadi was also found to have deliberately used delaying tactics when dealing with both her tenants and the council.

A spokesman for the council says: “This is the largest fine that Birmingham has seen for these type of offences and it sends out a strong message to all landlords that Birmingham city council will use all its enforcement powers to ensure that tenants are protected from rogue landlords who neglect their responsibilities”.

Source: Letting Agent Today

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Operating unlicensed HMO costs Bedford landlord more than £11K

A landlord has been prosecuted by Bedford Borough Council for operating an unlicensed HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) in the Bedford area.

Mr Fhalora of Ampthill Road, Bedford, was charged on January 3 with failing to obtain an Additional HMO Licence for the property that he manages on behalf of the owner and leases to tenants in Brackley Road.

Mr Fhalora was found guilty in his absence after entering a not guilty plea. As a result, Luton Magistrates Court fined him £2,500. Mr Fhalora was also ordered to pay the council’s full costs of £8,911.12 along with a victim surcharge of £170.

The court heard Mr Fhalora had been reminded by the council’s Community Regulation Team that he was required to licence the property under the Housing Act 2004. However, he failed to act on the advice given, potentially putting the safety of the tenants at risk and showing wilful neglect of his responsibilities as a landlord.

Councillor Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety & Regulatory Services said: “Bedford Borough Council prioritises the safety of its residents by ensuring the Borough’s private rented sector is effectively regulated.

An Additional HMO Licence is required for HMOs which are occupied by three or more unrelated people who share certain facilities in the household such as a kitchen or bathrooms.

Anyone who owns or manages an HMO can check with the Council to see if they need to have a licence.” Bedford Borough Council introduced an Additional HMO Licensing scheme in 2013 for properties rented out to three or more unrelated occupiers who share facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms.

These types of properties are subject to further regulation to give greater protection to tenants as these licences require landlords to invest in their properties, making them safer and in a better state of repair Landlords or tenants requiring further information or clarification regarding HMO Licensing requirements should contact the HMO Licensing Team on (01234) 718099 or refer to the council’s website at: www.bedford.gov.uk/multipleoccupation

Source: Bedford Today