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Landlady prosecuted for putting tenants at risk

A landlady pleaded guilty yesterday (28 February) to failing to license and manage a house in multiple occupation (HMO). Sharon Jacobs was ordered to pay a fine of £15,000, plus costs of £3456.52 and a victim surcharge of £170.

A number of complaints were received from different tenants living in the property on Litchfield Way, NW11, prompting council officers to investigate. A warrant was later obtained to enter the building, and police and environmental health officers from Re* jointly attended to discover five people living in the property plus the resident landlady.

Under the council’s Licensing Scheme for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), higher-risk properties meeting set criteria must be licensed, be properly managed and meet minimum standards. Ms. Jacobs ought to have been aware of this, having another property licensed in the London Borough of Camden and also having previously been an accredited landlord under the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme.

In addition to failing to license the property, officers also noticed serious safety concerns including a mini oven and freezer on the main fire escape routes and a partially-collapsed kitchen ceiling. There was also a lack of adequate smoke alarms and incomplete fire doors to prevent the spread of smoke and flames.

Councillor Tom Davey, Chairman of Barnet Council’s Housing Committee, said: “Where landlords are putting tenants’ lives at risk we will leave nothing to chance and take strong action against those responsible.

“This landlady has knowingly avoided licensing her property and carrying out necessary works, and I’m pleased to see our enforcement action has sent a strong message that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable.

“Enforcement officers are visiting properties across Barnet every day, and HMO landlords found not to be licensed will have action taken against them.”

Landlords who are unsure whether their property needs a licence or not can visit the council website where a licensing tool is available to help, plus guidance and application documents: www.barnet.gov.uk/hmos. For additional information email hmos@barnet.gov.uk or contact 020 8359 5355.

For details on the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme, visit: www.londonlandlords.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  • Re (Regional Enterprise) is a joint venture between Capita plc and the London Borough of Barnet
  • The latest successful prosecution by Barnet Council brings the total number of cases of landlords prosecuted for failing to license or manage their properties over the last 2 years to nine,  with more than £200,000 fines issued

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