Established Leicestershire student letting agency Loc8me has been fined £80,000 plus costs of £3,690 for operating four properties without an HMO licence.
At a hearing at Leicester Magistrates Court the company admitted the four offences under the Housing Act 2004 following a prosecution brought by Charnwood Borough Council and was fined £20,000 for each property.
The unlicensed HMOs in Loughborough came to light following a fire in the attic at one of the properties in October last year.
Fire fighters at the scene found that some of the smoke detectors at the property did not have working batteries and alerted local officials.
The premises were subsequently inspected by council officers who also discovered it was being operated as an HMO and did not feature proper fire doors or safety information for tenants.
The court heard that tenants at the first property had alerted the agency’s staff about the faulty smoke alarms and lack of fire doors but claimed nothing had been done.
A spokesperson from Loc8me told local media that the company took the safety of its tenants very seriously and that the fire alarms had been checked four times during the previous 12 months.
“We discovered that the HMO paperwork was missing as part of our own audit process, and we immediately submitted applications to the council on a voluntary basis,” the company said.
“These four properties represent less than one per cent of our managed portfolio, and we have done everything needed to put this right.”
Loc8me is the trading name of Orange Living Ltd.
Read about another hefty fine this week for a letting agent over an HMO.