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Landlord fined £40,000 for unlicensed HMO that broke every rule

Landlord could have spent £6,000 to make the property safe but chose to operate an illegal HMO which broke almost every health and safety law.

Sheila Manchester

A landlord was found guilty and fined £40,000 – the second largest fine for a rogue landlord ever obtained by Lincoln Council – for letting a dangerous and unlicensed HMO Occupation.

Julie Churchill of Newport, Lincoln was responsible for the unlicensed HMO at 135 Monks Road, Lincoln, deemed dangerous by magistrates for failing to comply with safety breaches under the Housing Act 2004.

The bedrooms had no fire doors, there were no working fire alarms on the ground floor. Three bedrooms had padlocks, which, if in use, would not allow a quick exit.

If a fire had broken out, the inadequate warning systems and lack of fire containment measures would have put the tenants at extreme risk.

The stairs were painted gloss black with no slip resistance, the kitchen did not have adequate facilities for seven tenants. One bedroom was below the legal minimum size for an adult. Fixing the defects would have cost Ms Churchill £6,000, it is claimed.

Overcrowded

A member of the public reported that the property was overcrowded in July 2018. It was inspected by the council’s Private Housing Officers who found a number of safety defects.

Under the belief that the property was being unlawfully let as a HMO, it was inspected by Private Housing Officers and the police under a magistrates’ court warrant on 23 January 2019 to find that it was occupied by seven unrelated eastern European and sub-Saharan immigrants in four bedrooms.

Ms Churchill was taking up to £1,480 per month in rent, giving her an income of £35,520 over the two years.

The tenants spoke little English and were unaware of their rights, receiving no tenancy agreement, rent book or rent receipt during their tenancy. Only two knew what the landlord’s name was.

Councillor Donald Nannestad (left) Portfolio Holder for Quality Housing at City of Lincoln Council, said,We’re extremely pleased to bring another case to justice as part of our ongoing battle to crack down on rogue landlords in Lincoln.

“This property was dangerous and as a council, we will not allow landlords to ignore their legal responsibilities, even if they refuse to engage with us.”

The magistrates said, “Ms Churchill endangered lives by not adhering to the management regulations for fire safety. There was a lack of fire doors in the property, a lack of fire alarms and a slip hazard on the stairs. Ms Churchill could easily have remedied these defects months if not years ago.”

 

 

October 8, 2019

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