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Rogue Carlisle landlords prosecuted for unsafe conditions

Two Carlisle-based rogue landlords have been fined more that £1,000 each following a successful prosecution by Carlisle City Council.

Following a series of unannounced visits to rented premises in November 2018, Carlisle City Council has successfully prosecuted Sait Colak (49) and Erkan Colak (43) – both of 41 Fernlea Way, Carlisle – for offences under the management of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) regulations.

The visits backed by warrants from the Magistrates Court were carried out in coordination with the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, Cumbria Police and the Immigration, Control and Enforcement Service.

The offences related to poor management and unsafe conditions in the property. The landlords were fined £1,000 each on Wednesday 8 May 2019 by Carlisle Magistrates Court. In addition to the fine, £150 costs and £50 Victim Surcharge were also imposed.

Both Sait Colak and Erkan Colak pleaded guilty (by post) and neither attended the hearing.

Carlisle City Council spokesperson said: “The successful prosecution demonstrates the effectiveness of multi-agency working – a key feature of the Rogue Landlord Project funded by the Controlling Migration Fund. The project targets unlawful activity in the private rented sector with a focus on the Botchergate area and fast food premises.

“All Houses of Multiple Occupation should be properly managed; ensuring the safety and security of the tenants. In addition to this court prosecution, we are also now using the powers under the Housing and Planning Act 2016, to issue civil penalties against landlords. To date we have issued five civil penalties to landlords found to be operating without HMO licences.”

A House in Multiple Occupation is a privately rented property which is shared by more than two individuals and who share facilities such as a bathroom or kitchen. Any HMOs occupied by five or more individuals must be licensed. All HMOs must be managed to ensure the tenants are safe and secure.

 Source: Cumbria Crack
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Sneinton Landlord Prosecuted For Aggressive Behaviour

A Sneinton rogue landlord has been prosecuted by Nottingham Magistrates Court for acting aggressively towards his tenant.

Landlord Sahfaqat Ali Sadiq threatened to throw his tenant’s belongings onto the street. Nottingham City Council became aware of his behavior following a complaint from a tenant who claimed to have been ‘forcibly removed’ from a house despite paying rent and not causing any damage to the property.

The council discovered that the tenant had not received any paperwork from Sadiq, of Vicarage Avenue, Derby, after paying his deposit and rent in cash. It was also reported that the landlord had let himself into the Sneinton house on a number of occasions in pursuit of money that did not belong to him.

The tenant also claimed that Sadiq had acted aggressively towards him by shouting and threatening to throw his belongings into the street. The landlord then placed kitchen items into bin bags.

Upon inspection, it was discovered that the Sneinton house did not have the correct licensing for a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

Sadiq was found guilty of aggressive practices, failing to protect a tenancy deposit and operating a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) without a licence at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on Friday. He was fined £1,750.

Nottingham City Council stated that the three offences fell beneath the Housing Act 2004 and Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

Sadiq denied assaulting one of his tenants. He also stated that he had submitted an application for a HMO licence which he assumed was being processed as he had not heard of its progress.

Portfolio holder for housing and planning, Councillor Jane Urquhart, said: ‘Landlords are required to manage their property in accordance with the law. Failing to secure tenants’ deposits and acting aggressively towards them is not acceptable. This case shows that Nottingham City Council will take robust action through the courts to prosecute rogue landlords.’

Portfolio holder for community protection, Councillor Toby Neal, added: ‘This is a great result for the council, showing the importance of different teams working together and using consumer protection legislation to protect vulnerable tenants.’

Source: Residential Landlord

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New powers to tackle rogue landlords unveiled

Private sector landlords operating in Cheshire East are being warned of tough new penalties to crack down on poor housing standards.

Cheshire East Council has amended its housing enforcement policy to include new powers, which could see the most serious offenders banned from letting properties altogether or entered on to a national database of rogue landlords.

In addition, landlords will have to ensure their properties comply with a minimum energy efficiency standard or face a fine of up to £5,000.

These new powers add to the enforcement options already available to the council, which include civil penalties of up to £30,000 and rent repayment orders for certain housing offences – both of which were added to the policy in August 2017.

Since last year, the council has issued fines totalling almost £25,000 against five landlords, all of whom had failed to apply for a licence for a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

Councillor Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration, said: “There are many responsible private landlords in Cheshire East, who offer well-managed accommodation that is of a good standard, helping to ensure the welfare of tenants.

“Disappointingly, though, there are a small number who either do not understand their legal responsibilities when providing housing or deliberately ignore their duties.

“This council is committed to challenging poor-quality housing and will proactively work with landlords to improve standards, where they fall short.

“But, where landlords fail to take the necessary action, we will make full use of the enforcement options available to us.”

The updated housing enforcement policy now includes a guide for landlords of HMOs, outlining the amenities, property and management standards expected of them and details a stronger ‘fit and proper person’ test.

It also includes the revised definition of HMOs that require a licence. From 1st October, all HMOs where there are five or more occupants – living in two or more separate households – must be licensed.

Cllr Arnold said: “Operating without a licence is a criminal offence and landlords could face an unlimited fine. That is why we are urging landlords of HMOs, who have not already done so, to apply for one as soon as possible.”

Source: Alderley Edge

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Landlords warned over housing rules as £16,000 fine dished out in

Warnings have been issued to rogue landlords in Wolverhampton after council officers issued a £16,000 penalty to a homeowner flouting the rules.

Wolverhampton council handed a Whitmore Reans landlord the huge financial penalty for running a house in multiple occupation (HMO) without a licence.

It is the first time the council’s housing team issued a civil penalty to a landlord for failing to abide by its rules.

Deputy council leader Councillor Peter Bilson said the case should serve as a warning to landlords across Wolverhampton.

The cabinet member for city assets and housing added: “This is a stark warning to private sector landlords that they must comply with the HMO rules in the Wolverhampton.”

The council said the fine, which will be reduced to £10,600 if paid in full within 28 days, signals the start of a tougher approach to managing private sector landlords.

Powers are now in place to enforce civil penalty notices of up to £30,000 per offence, and new licensing rules for HMO will come into force on October 1.

Government officials will bring in the changes to HMO licensing in a bid to improve standards of housing across the country.

Key changes will include needing to obtain licences for some properties occupied by five or more residents, living in two or more separate households and sharing amenities.

It will apply to single and two-storey properties, as well as purpose-built, self-contained flats in a block of no more than two self-contained flats.

Councillor Bilson added: “Through our Rent with Confidence framework we continue to work closely with private landlords across the city.

“It is important they are fully aware of the new government regulations that come into effect from October 1 and that we will be doing everything in our power to enforce them.

“Rent with Confidence supports responsible private housing businesses in the city and aims to improve the quality and choice of housing for private sector occupiers.

“We are here to advise landlords on the new changes and we will continue to work with landlords, agents, owners and service users by providing a range of information and guidance through the Rent with Confidence scheme.

“Providing further protection of health, safety and welfare rights for tenants in the city is vital.”

Last year, the council announced it would be extending enforcement powers handed to its officers so they could dish out fines of up to £30,000 to landlords breaking housing laws.

But the council may reduce the charge if rogue landlords agree to work to address issues.

They will need to agree to be registered with the Rent with Confidence scheme – a five-star rating system – and achieve at least a three star rating.

Source: Express and Star

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Thurrock Landlord Fined For Failure To License Investment Property

A Thurrock landlord has been fined £2,252 after failing to license her property and failing to provide acceptable living conditions for her tenants.

Rogue landlord Adeola Makinde was found guilty of failing to licence her rental property in Norfolk Place, Chafford Hundred. The property required a house in multiple occupation (HMO) licence. A trial at Basildon Magistrates Court last week lead to Makinde being prosecuted for her failure to sort this out.

The court was told that Thurrock Council had been requesting a HMO licence application from Makinde since 2014. However, no application was made.

An inspection in July 2017 revealed that the property contained 12 people living in four rooms as well as sharing a single kitchen. It also found that there were inadequate fire safety measures and a number of issues with the condition of the property which rendered it unfit for human habitation. The overcrowded nature of the property could have endangered the health of the tenants who lived inside as well as causing severe problems if a fire were to start and the residents needed to escape.

Makinde pleaded not guilty to the charge of failing to licence the HMO, three breaches of HMO management regulations, failing to return information about the house and failing to return documents. However, magistrates deemed her actions were unreasonable and therefore found her guilty of all six charges.

Councillor responsible for Thurrock housing, Barry Johnson, said: ‘We believe everyone should have a good quality place to live and will continue to take action against those landlords who fail to ensure their properties are safe, well managed and properly licensed. We are currently consulting on a proposed new additional licensing scheme which would mean more landlords who own shared houses and flats have to comply with national health and safety standards and local criteria.’

Source: Residential Landlord

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Bury Landlord Fined For Unlicensed Property In Poor Condition

A rogue Bury landlord has been ordered to pay nearly £3,000 after being found guilty of several breaches relating to an unlicensed HMO in the area.

Abdul Raza Saddiqui, aged 50, of Parkhill Road, Bury, was fined a sizeable £1,200. He was also ordered to pay £2,452 costs as well as a £30 victim of crime surcharge after being found guilty of 12 housing offences.

The rental property, located on Seymour Road in Crumpsall, M8, failed various minimum safety standards. These included fire safety and gas safety, seriously compromising the safety of the tenants in the property and potentially endangering their lives should there have been a fire.

Council officers also discovered other breaches of management regulations in the property. These included a lack of working fire alarm, damaged fire doors, cluttered escape routes and broken heating facilities. There were also damaged kitchen units, as well as filthy and verminous common areas that rendered the property unfit for human habitiation due to the lack of hygiene.

Saddiqui pleaded guilty to eleven offences of breach of HMO regulations, and one offence of a breach of a condition of his HMO licence at a hearing at Manchester Magistrates’ Court,

Deputy leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Bernard Priest, took a hard line on rogue landlords in Bury: ‘There’s no place for rogue landlords in Manchester. Landlords have a responsibility to provide their tenants good quality, safe housing and we take the issue of tenant safety extremely seriously. We will continue to pursue enforcement action to defend the rights of tenants and will not hesitate to take legal action against anyone whose property fails to meet the required standards.’

He continued: ‘Our message to landlords is simple – bring your property up to standard, make sure your tenants are safe and get a licence where the law requires one.’

Source: Residential Landlord

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Northampton Borough Council Considers Increasing Housing Enforcement

Northampton Borough Council could impose fines of up to £30,000 on rogue landlords and letting agents for misconduct in future.

Northampton Borough Council is planning to increase its housing enforcement team in order to better crack down on unsafe privately rented accommodation. The Borough Council has confirmed that the new fines are set to be imposed to ensure that privately rented accommodation is ‘safe, well managed and fit for purpose.’

The council also met last night to decide on whether to enforce a ‘section 4’ rule which would mean that landlords are required to obtain planning permission before converting family homes into houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

A HMO is defined as accommodation with over three separate tenants. HMOs have received poor publicity from residents groups and communities as they occupy family homes. There have also been complaints that they lead to rubbish strewn streets and excessive amounts of cars.

Northampton borough council claims that their current private sector hosing enforcement team is ‘too small’ to be able to deal with the vast numbers of substandard, unlicensed and badly managed privately rented homes.

Council cabinet member for housing, Councillor Stephen Hibbert, said: ‘The Government has given local authorities the power to impose fines on landlords and managing agents, as an alternative to prosecution which can be more expensive and take a long time. Our housing enforcement team has already identified almost 500 properties which it knows or suspects are HMOs and should be licensed. The team is also aware of other substandard privately-rented accommodation in the borough which it doesn’t currently have enough time to tackle.’

Additionally, new government legislation also allows for an extension of rent repayment orders. This could result in up to a year’s rent being returned to those who paid it, be that the tenant or the council in the case of those whose rent is met by housing benefit. This is also likely to shake up the buy to let sector in Northampton.

Source: Residential Landlord

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Tough New Laws To Stamp Out Rogue Landlords

Tough new laws for shared housing landlords will come into force from April 2019, says Housing Minister Alok Sharma.

Although the rules will need clearance from Parliament, the measures will curb overcrowding in houses in multiple occupation by demanding landlords offer tenants more sleeping space.

The rules will cover all private rented homes in England where five or more tenants from two or more separate households live.

From April, local councils will have to licence an extra 160,000 shared homes. Councils are already responsible for licensing 500,000 homes in England.

Bedrooms sleeping one adult will have to measure at least 6.51 square metres, while those for two adults should be no smaller than 10.22 square metres.

Rooms for children up to 10 years old must be 4.64 square metres or more.

Unscrupulous landlords

The new HMO licence will state how many people can live in a room and the total occupancy for a property will specify how many people can stay in a home as a way of halting overcrowding.

The new measures will also specify several criminal offences that will bar landlords from letting out shared homes.

Landlords will also gain a duty to manage refuse disposal and recycling for HMO properties.

“Every tenant has a right to a safe, secure and decent home. But far too many are being exploited by unscrupulous landlords who profit from providing overcrowded, squalid and sometimes dangerous homes,” said Sharma

“Enough is enough and so I’m putting these rogue landlords on notice – shape up or ship out of the rental business.

£30,000 fines for breaking new laws

“Through a raft of new powers, we are giving councils the further tools they need to crack down these rogue landlords and kick them out of the business for good.”

These new measures add to action by the government to improve safety and standards in the private rented sector.

Recent action includes bringing in fines of up to £30,000 for dodgy landlords, protections for tenants from revenge evictions and £12 million funding for councils to take enforcement action in hotspot areas.

A database of rogue landlords convicted of housing offences is due to switch on from April.

Source: iExpats

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Colchester Landlord Fined £20,000 For HMO Offences

A rogue Colchester landlord has been fined after being found guilty of nine offences in relation to a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

Landlord Cyril Thomas, who runs property management company Platinum Crown Investments Ltd, was told that he must pay £20,000. Thomas was fined £1,000 for each of the offences he committed. On top of this, he was ordered to pay over £11,000 in costs as well as a victim surcharge of £100 by Colchester Magistrates. The total sum he was ordered to pay by the court amounted to over £20,000.

The landlord’s offences were discovered following an inspection in December 2015. The home, described by the council as a flat above the letting office in Colchester, had been converted without the correct Building Regulations approval. The conversion was also poorly executed. The local authority asserted that this contributed to breaches of HMO management regulations. This was due to the creation of fire risks, and an inaccessible fuse box. The later issue had rendered residents stuck in the cold and dark for two nights after the electrics tripped.

The judges showed some leniency to the landlord by allowing him to pay the sum over a prolonged period of 20 months. However, Thomas still intends to appeal the decision.

He stated after the hearing: ‘I’m disappointed with the decision that has been taken in regards to prosecuting me in my personal name. However, I’m pleased that Platinum Crown has been acquitted of all 10 charges that were brought against it.  Having given careful consideration to the way in which this case has been handled, my legal advisors believe we have grounds to appeal and an appeal has now been lodged. As previously mentioned, Platinum Crown takes its property management responsibilities extremely seriously and generally enjoys an excellent working relationship with Colchester Borough Council.’

Source: Residential Landlord