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Letting agent in court over unlicensed rent-to-rent HMO

A letting agent has been fined £11,500 for breaking HMO houses and fire safety rules at a property he manages.

Agent Benjamin Jacob-Smith from Essex, signed a ‘rent to rent’ contract with the owner of a house in Oxford in July 2019.

The contract saw Jacob-Smith pay £3,100 rent each month to the owner of the property. Jacob-Smith then issued individual tenancies to unrelated occupants.


In February 2020 an Oxford council housing officer visited the property and found it was occupied by four tenants and was an unlicensed HMO.

Three fire safety failings were also found in the property - there was no fire blanket in the kitchen, the kitchen fire door was faulty, and the front door lock was not a keyless operation on the inside, meaning in the event of a fire tenants may have needed to search for a key to get out.

The council charged Jacob-Smith with four offences: one charge for failing to licence an HMO, and a charge for each of the fire safety failings.

At a Magistrates’ Court hearing Jacob-Smith admitted all four offences.

For the offence of managing an unlicensed HMO he was fined £10,000, and for each of the three fire safety offences he was fined £500.

Jacob-Smith was also ordered to pay costs of £1,385. A council spokesperson says: “This case shows that we will take action against those who are putting lives at risk.”


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