A London borough has secured its highest ever fine under the Housing Act 2004 after it prosecuted two landlords for renting out an unsafe house in multiple occupation (HMO).
Redbridge Council said it thought that the fines were some of the highest in the country to be imposed for Housing Act offences.
The two-storey property in Roman Road, Ilford had been illegally converted into five 'studio' flats. There was also no fire alarm system, unprotected escape routes, defective electrics and water leaks.
The local authority’s Housing Standards team and Redbridge Community Police Team Enforcement visited a number of times between 18 July 2012 and 9 January 3014.
An Emergency Prohibition Order was served in July 2012 to prevent the property from being occupied, but the landlords continued to rent out the property.
In March 2013, they were prosecuted for housing offences by the local authority and pleaded guilty. The offences continued.
On 15 December 2013, Rana Mohammed Irfan and his wife Naheed Rana Irfan both of De Vere Gardens, Ilford pleaded guilty at Havering Magistrates Court to a further nine offences under the 2004 Act.
The case was referred to Snaresbrook Crown Court for sentencing and for consideration of a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Last month (24 July) each landlord was ordered to pay £32,985. This was made up of a £7,430 confiscation order (for the profit made renting out the property while the prohibition order was in force), £2,250 for each for the six management offences and £3,250 for each of the three breaches of the prohibition order plus costs of £2,305.
The total sums amounted to £65,970. If the landlords fail to make full payment within five months, they will each face an 18-month prison sentence.
Cllr Muhammed Javed, Cabinet Member for Housing at Redbridge, said: “We will not tolerate landlords who place tenants’ lives at risk by renting out unsafe and badly managed properties.
“This case should act as a warning to others. Rogue landlords are not welcome in Redbridge and will be subject to thorough investigation by our Housing Standards team.”
Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “We urge other councils to follow Redbridge’s lead and do everything in their power to crack down on the worst offenders in their area and stamp out rogue landlords for good.”
Redbridge Council said it was running an HMO licensing amnesty and was giving landlords until 31 August 2014 to submit their licence application.
The authority added that an enforcement campaign would begin on 1 September 2014 to target landlords who had not come forward to apply for a licence. “We will prosecute where appropriate, which could result in a £20,000 fine,” the council said.