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Pair fined more than £20,000 for HMO breach

  • Housing and Community

A landlord and his managing agent have been ordered to pay more than £20,000 after failing to secure a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence for their three-storey property.

Barnet Council discovered 13 tenants living in the house in Hillside Gardens, Edgware, after complaints about waste storage and nuisance behaviour were made to its Community Safety team. An eight-month-old baby was found living with a couple in a converted loft accessed via a steep, twisting staircase with no handrail or lighting, leading to a low-ceilinged landing.

A total of seven lettings were in place at the property, which lacked satisfactory means of fire escape and fire detection. Barnet Council’s Environmental Health team subsequently issued a Prohibition Order stopping the use of the second-floor room as living accommodation.

Property owner Saeed Afolabi and his letting agent, Alvin Forbes, were fined £21,168.40 including costs after being prosecuted by Barnet Council at Willesden Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 6 November. If they’d applied for a HMO licence, the council would have identified the unsatisfactory living conditions during an inspection and worked with the landlord to improve them.

Most HMOs in Barnet require an HMO licence to ensure that they meet minimum standards and are properly managed. The criteria for HMOs requiring a licence has been extended to include all properties occupied by five or more people in England, not just those with three or more storeys.

All HMOs falling under the scheme should have submitted their complete applications by 1 October. If landlords have not done this they should do so immediately or risk prosecution or a Penalty Notice of up to £30,000 per offence. More information can be found at barnet.gov.uk/hmos

Councillor Gabriel Rozenberg, Chairman of Barnet Council’s Housing Committee, said: “I’m passionate about defending the rights of our renters and increasing the standard of housing in our private sector. We’re keen to work with landlords, but if you don’t comply with the law, you can expect to be punished.”

Have your say on housing

Barnet Council is consulting residents on its five-year housing and homelessness strategies. You can have your say now at engage.barnet.gov.uk. Councillors Gabriel Rozenberg and Shimon Ryde, Vice-Chairman of Barnet Council’s Housing Committee, will host a public event for the borough’s renters on how to improve their experience. Join them from 6.30-8.30pm on Wednesday 21 November in Colindale Library, 7 Bristol Avenue, London, NW9 4BR.

Barnet Council’s Environmental Health team is part of Re, the joint venture between Capita and the council.

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