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Letting agent fined for housing breach

Date issued: 19 September 2017

Letting agent Spicerhaart has been fined £2,670 after pleading guilty to operating an unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO), following a successful prosecution by Colchester Borough Council.

The case, which was heard by Colchester magistrates on 14 September 2017, was brought after one of the council's private sector housing officers undertook inspection visits at the three-story property in Colet Crescent, Colchester, which was being let to six students.

As a three-storey property, it fell within the mandatory requirement for HMO licensing as required by the Housing Act 2004 - but neither Spicerhaart, operating as the management company, nor the owner had applied for a licence.

Magistrates fined the company £2000 and ordered it to pay £500 Council costs and a £170 victim surcharge.

The case against the property owner, who pleaded not guilty, is due to be heard at a later date.

Colchester has a high number of houses in multiple occupation which are multi-let to students and workers.

Private sector housing officers monitor and regulate privately rented accommodation to ensure that they are properly managed, kept in an acceptable state of repair, have adequate fire safety measures and requisite amenities, such as kitchen, bathroom and living space, for the number of persons residing.

Cllr Tina Bourne, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Communities, said: "We hope that bringing this case to court will serve as both a deterrent and a reminder to letting agents and landlords to think twice before letting properties to multiple occupants without an appropriate licence.

"The Council is committed to protecting the health and safety of residents in Colchester by enforcing housing standards, and will always take action against landlords and managers of HMOs whenever they fail to comply with Housing Law."