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Regulation & Law

Lettings agency fined £25,000 over ‘squalid and dangerous’ unlicensed HMO

Two directors of an Ipswich lettings agency and the firm have been fined after council officers found the property in a dangerous state of repair and overcrowded.

Nigel Lewis

lettings agency hmo

A lettings agency and two of its directors in Ipswich has been fined £25,000 over a ‘squalid and dangerous’ unlicenced four-bedroom HMO that it was convicted of managing. It was inhabited by up to 27 people.

Jay and Ralph Bernard, directors of local lettings agency Masons Estates (East Anglia) Limited had denied managing an unlicenced HMO property, but they were convicted at a trial last month following a prosecution by Ipswich Borough Council. There is no connection between this firm and another local company also involved in lettings, Masons Property Services Ltd.

The pair’s legal representative argued that they were unaware of the property’s poor state of repair and during the initial trial, the Bernards also denied failing to respond to notice requiring information about the property and 17 breaches of housing regulations.

lettings agencyThis included dangerous bare electrical wires (see left), missing smoke detectors, a poorly maintained water supply and drainage, filthy floors, unsafe sockets, unsafe light fittings, dangerous stairways and rubbish in the garden.

They and their lettings agency were fined at Suffolk Magistrates’ Court following the conviction, local media has reported.

Masons Estates was fined £10,000 plus £7,847.80 costs; Jay Bernard was fined £3,500 plus £1,500 costs, and Ralph Bernard was fined £1,500 plus £500 costs. Both the firm and the Bernards will also have to pay a victim surcharge of £170 each.

The prosecution follows a raid on the property in November 2018 during which it was estimated that between 14 and 27 people lived in the property.

Read more about unlicensed HMOs.

January 13, 2020

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