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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Agent convicted after ignoring council requests over licensing

A managing agent has been convicted by a local council for failing to properly license his property.

Leon Hill, of Leighton Buzzard, pleaded guilty at Luton Magistrates Court.

He is the director of Squares Letting Agent, and he failed to licence a HMO in the town, despite a number of requests from council officers.

Hill received a fine of £866 and has had to pay council costs of £1,102 and a victim surcharge of £86 resulting in total fine of £2,054.

Councillor Carole Hegley - the authority’s executive member for Adults, Social Care, Housing Operations and Customer Services - says: "We know that most private rented sector landlords provide decent and well managed accommodation, but there are a small number of rogue landlords and property agents who knowingly flout their legal obligations and rent out accommodation which is substandard – often to vulnerable tenants. This is unacceptable."

She adds: "We want people to understand that landlords of HMOs who fail to apply for a licence will be committing an offence which may result in a prosecution, criminal conviction, their name being added to the national Rogue Landlord Database and a large fine.”

  • Barry X

    Now he's paid his fine and everyone's costs, and obtained a licence, did his probably total useless local council then discover he had been "...rent(ing) out accommodation which is substandard – often to vulnerable tenants..." and as a result of "licencing" him have they sorted this out and improved anything....?

    ....thought not, so
    (a) no they didn't, and
    (b) no they haven't.

    All they've done is legally robbed and punished another probably perfectly innocent landlord who might have just decided to make a stand and see what the court thought of this "licence" to, er, print money while not do anything it claims to be for.

    It seems the court was either scared or not interested and therefore equally useless. And so, unfortunately, no real progress towards justice, fair play or common sense has been made in this increasingly broken, dysfunctional and screwed-up country of ours.

    But no surprises there, obviously.

  • Suzy OShea

    Barry X,

    Sorry, I agree only in part with your assessment.

    For more than 15 years now, licensing of HMOs has been a legal requirement of certain properties which can house more than a limited number of tenants. For a landlord to wilfully ignore council commands, never mind requests to register his property as an HMO is idiotic, unless of course he wants to rent it out as a single dwelling! This obviously is not the case. In fact, Leon Hill can consider himself extremely lucky to have such a low fine, when the court could have imposed a fine of £20,000 alone., with all of the court costs and subsidiary fines on top. So the court far from being unsympathetic to Leon Hill, has in point of fact shown moderation in the application of its fine.

    Furthermore, as a landlord of HMOs, I can attest that councils require landlords to install smoke, fire alarms and sprinkler systems, 30 minute-resistant fire doors, and require modifications to kitchens, understairs cupboards etc! So if Hill has paid the fines and now agreed to fulfil his obligations by licensing his property and making the required changes, then this is not just a money extortion exercise. Hill brings private landlords into disrepute by obdurately flouting the law!

  • Paul Barrett

    There will be many homeowners caught out by this new HMO legislation.
    Anymore than 4 occupiers NOT households and a home would have to be radically changed in the residential home.
    Of course a guest could make 5 of occupiers but that wouldn't trigger Mandatory HMO licensing.
    Many homeowners will be unaware of these new HMO regulations.
    Of course many Councils will be unable to detect more than 5 occupiers in a residential property.
    How Councils will be able manage these issues beats me.
    Of course if detected most homeowners would simply get rid of any lodgers required to reduce to 4 occupiers as very few would wish to have their home subject to HMO regulations.

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