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Massive fines and costs for property firm and landlord over HMO breaches

A council says it hopes a massive set of fines and costs imposed on one buy to let investor and his property company will send out a signal to others over the need to keep their properties in safe condition.

Harbhajan Singh Dhami, of Wolverhampton, has pleaded guilty to failing to put right 32 housing offences at an HMO in the city.

He and his company, Dhami Accommodation Ltd, received fines, charges and costs totalling £33,995 at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court.

The property consisting of two sets of units - 11 flats in total with seven in occupation - was inspected by council housing officers several times in March and April last year.

It was found no approval had been sought for the conversion of the property to flats, therefore confirming it was a HMO and should be regulated under the HMO regulations.

Further inspection in June revealed the landlord had also failed to deal with fire hazards, electrical issues, damp, and the large accumulation of waste to the rear of the property.

As a result of the condition of the property and the risk it posed to the tenants the council served a Prohibition Order, which came into effect on July 28 to prohibit its occupation.

Dhami blamed the tenants for the damage to the property but accepted that the tenants in the property were vulnerable and therefore the duty of care that he owed to his tenants was much greater. 

The council says that from the company accounts provided to the court it was clear that the company had made a substantial profit. 

The judge said that while Dhami would be given credit for his guilty plea he would be sentenced on the high risk involved. It was clear that the property was a high fire risk and that candles were being used at the property which also had loose wiring. 

The fact that one of the walls was separating from the structure leaving a gap, together with the blocked means of escape, missing banisters, an inoperative fire alarm system and disconnected smoke detectors created a risk of smoke penetration and injury in the event of a fire. 

Apart from the fire risk the damp throughout the property posed a risk to health. There had been a lack of compliance from Dhami when council officers had required him to correct these problems and a lack of response when he was given the opportunity to do so.

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