LANDLORD & AGENT FINED OVER SHARED STUDENT HOUSE: MANAGING AGENT IN COURT LESS THAN TWO YEARS SINCE LAST CONVICTION

A Nottingham managing agent has pleaded guilty to failure to apply for a Houses of Multiple Occupancy licence for a student property for the second time in less than two years.

The case against Thomas James Lettings Limited was heard at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on the 21st of November 2012 and was ordered to pay fines and costs of £2,521. The level of the penalty applied reflects the fact that Thomas James Lettings Limited declared to the magistrates a financial loss of £7,000 in the previous year.

The company had previously been prosecuted by the Environmental Health HMO team, a part of Council and Police partnership, Community Protection, for the same offence in January 2011. On that occasion, the managing agent was found guilty of  failure to apply for a Houses of Multiple Occupancy licence and ordered to pay  £10,347.67

After an investigation by Environmental Health, the property on Forest Road East was found to be occupied by five students and records showed that the property was not licensed under the Housing Act 2004 and that no licence had been applied for. This constitutes a criminal offence under the Housing Act 2004.

Licensing of Houses of Multiple Occupancy ensures that a fit and proper person assessment is carried out on the landlord, that the premises are suitable for occupation and that there are satisfactory standards of management of the HMO.

In summing up the Magistrate pointed out that Thomas James Lettings Limited should have made the necessary checks to ensure that the licence application had been received by the local authority.

This case was brought in conjunction with a case against the owner of the property Mr Giuliano Biondi who also pleaded guilty at Nottingham Magistrates Court on 31st October 2012. Mr Biondi was fined £600.00 plus £506.00 costs and £15 victim surcharge. Both the owner and managing agent admitted to committing a criminal offence by failing to licence the premises.

Cllr Liversidge, Portfolio Holder for Adults, Housing and the Community Sector said:  

“Obtaining a licence for a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) has been a requirement under the Housing Act 2004 since April 2006. HMOs that need to be licensed are those comprising three or more storeys with five or more persons in two or more households. The maximum fine for failing to obtain a licence is £20,000. It’s unfortunate that this business does not seem to have learned from their previous mistakes and now face this financial penalty as well as potential damage to their reputation.”

[Nottingham City Council Press Release, November 2012]