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£25,000 penalty for breaching safety and licence rules

A landlord who did not have the required licence for the number of tenants living in his property, and who also failed to carry out gas safety checks, has been ordered to pay £25,151.92. 

Emmil Seeson Watson (also known as Emil Wayne Watson), of Reading in Berkshire, pleaded guilty at Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court to five charges under the Housing Act 2004.

On 8 October last year environmental health officers from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea visited his property in London W10, following complaints from tenants about a leaking roof. They could not get repaired as they were unable to contact Watson.

Up to seven tenants were living in the house, despite Watson not having a licence for a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) as required by the Housing Act 2004. 

The court heard that Watson had gone out of his way to avoid cooperating with the council and had made himself very difficult to contact. He had refused to obtain the proper licence despite two previous warnings. 

Three emergencies had occurred at the house since 2012 including a leak that caused a ceiling to collapse and a window that needed repair after a burglary, and tenants were forced to complain to the emergency services and the council because Watson could not be reached.

Watson told the court that had he licensed the property he would have had to raise the rents, whereas some rents had stayed the same for some years. He also stated that he paid various bills for the property out of the rents he took. 

He also said he was not replacing the tenants who had left, therefore reducing the number of people living at the property which would mean it would not need to be licensed.

However, the chairwoman of the Bench said Mr Watson had put his tenants in danger and failed to follow clear warnings from the Council regarding the licensing of the property.

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