Date issued: 15 May 2019
A landlord and property management company who ignored tenants’ complaints about poor property standards in an unlicensed property have been fined more than £16,000.
Following a hearing at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on 10 May 2019, landlord Mr Jide Olugbodi pleaded guilty to the offences of failing to licence a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in Albany Gardens, Colchester, and breaching numerous HMO management regulations. Saxons Lettings and Management Ltd had previously pleaded guilty to all charges, at Chelmsford Magistrates Court, on 13 December 2018.
Mr Olugbodi was ordered to pay just over £6,000 in fines, costs and victim surcharges. Due to concerns about his financial circumstances he requested to pay over a longer timescale, but this was rejected by the court.
Saxons Lettings and Management Ltd was ordered to pay more than £10,000 in fines, costs and victim surcharges.
The five tenants who moved into the property in Albany Gardens, Colchester, in September 2017, experienced a range of problems including the cooker and refrigerator not working, a leak from a shower causing dampness that prevented use of the living room, broken windows, rotten and unsafe decking to the rear garden, and a lack of bins to dispose of waste and recycling.
The tenants had repeatedly raised concerns with Saxons Lettings and Management Ltd, who managed the property on behalf of Mr Olugbodi, but nothing was done.
In November 2017, the tenants contacted Colchester Borough Council’s private sector housing team about the poor accommodation standards and lack of action from either the landlord or management company to address the issues.
During an inspection of the property, an Environmental Health Officer identified multiple breaches of HMO management regulations and found it to be occupied by five unrelated residents, which required the property to be licensed. However, no licence application had been submitted to the council. An application was subsequently made, and Mr Olugbodi has now been issued a licence to operate the property as a HMO.
Cllr Mark Cory, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: “We are committed, as a council, to improving living standards for tenants in the private rented sector, including houses in multiple occupation, which provide an affordable housing option for many residents in the borough.
“Landlords and property managers have a duty to ensure their properties meet minimum legal standards and, where appropriate, to apply for a licence.
“Failure to apply for a licence to operate an HMO or to comply with housing regulations are criminal offences and the council will always take whatever action is necessary to ensure legal compliance and safe living conditions for residents.”
The Government introduced national changes to HMO legislation on 1 October 2018. Anyone wishing to check whether the property they own, manage or live in requires an HMO licence can do so using the council’s free online licence checker tool.
More information about Houses in Multiple Occupation, including guidance documents for landlords and managing agents and the form to apply for a licence for an HMO, are available on the council’s website www.colchester.gov.uk/hmolicensing.