Grimsby Letting Agent handed fine for housing offences
A letting agent in North East Lincolnshire has been handed a £1,700 court bill following a successful prosecution by North East Lincolnshire Council.
Mayfair Estates Agents (Grimsby) Ltd pleaded guilty to a number of housing-related offences, following an investigation by the Council’s housing enforcement officers.
Housing enforcement officers from the Council’s regeneration partner ENGIE, supported by Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, inspected a property managed by Mayfair last year, and found a number of vulnerable people sharing a property in a dangerous condition.
Officers found that the property, situated on Cleethorpe Road, Grimsby, failed to meet some of the basic fire safety standards for a house of multiple occupancy (HMO).
The breaches included:
- No evidence that fire alarms worked or had been tested recently
- Damage to fire doors and holes in the communal area ceiling
- No working emergency lighting to the communal areas
- No emergency contact details for the manager or owner of the property
- Combustible materials obstructing the emergency escape routes
Councillor Peter Wheatley, portfolio holder for housing, said: “Landlords have a legal obligation to follow the letter of the law when it comes to looking after tenants and maintaining a property.
“Unlicensed and poorly maintained houses are unacceptable and take advantage of often-vulnerable tenants. They can be exploitative and quite frankly they could put people’s lives at risk.
“We want to work with landlords in our area to make sure they are meeting the high standards set out by the law.
“If landlords are unsure of what they need to be doing for their tenants, they need to get in touch with our housing team.”
Mayfair Estate Agents (Grimsby) Ltd was subsequently prosecuted and pleaded guilty to five offences under the housing act and handed fines of £800. Additional costs of £820 and a victim surcharge of £80 meant the overall costs incurred to the plaintiff amounted to some £1,700.
What is a house of multiple occupancy (HMO)?
If you let a property which is one of the following types it is an HMO:
An entire house or flat which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
A house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and which is let to three or more tenants who form two or more households and who share kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities.
A converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self-contained (i.e. the flat does not contain within it a kitchen, bathroom and toilet) and which is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households.
A building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and more than one-third of the flats are let on short-term tenancies.
In order to be an HMO the property must be used as the tenants’ only or main residence and it should be used solely or mainly to house tenants. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence and the same will apply to properties which are used as domestic refuges.
An owner-occupier with more than two lodgers who have a license to occupy their accommodation.
Two unrelated people sharing a property is excluded from the term HMO.