Investigation busts landlords of unlicensed property over 'dangerous' living conditions
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The owners and manager of an unlicensed shared housing property have been fined £30,000 for putting the safety of their tenants at risk.
In an investigation by Central Bedfordshire Council, it was discovered that accommodation above a restaurant in Deadman’s Cross - just outside Shefford - was operating as an unlicensed House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) where tenants were living in conditions that breached fire safety regulations.
A council spokesperson confirmed that the "HMO and the restaurant building are owned by the same freeholder, but we are unable to confirm if the business is linked to the freeholder.
"We cannot publicly name the recipients of the fine as this was a financial penalty agreed outside of a first tier property tribunal and was not a prosecution, and therefore was not heard in court.”
A HMO is a property that has more than one household living in it and sharing the toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities.
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The intervention from the council officers resulted in the owners being ordered to remove fire safety risks and improve the living conditions for the tenants. The owners and managing agent were also required to apply for a HMO licence.
They received fines for failing to licence the property and breaching the HMO management regulations, by failing to ensure fire safety measures were in place.
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It has been a legal requirement to licence all HMO privately rented properties with five or more occupants since October 1, 2018.
Cllr Eugene Ghent, executive member for housing and assets, said: “We know that most private rented sector landlords provide decent and well managed accommodation, but there are a small number of landlords and property agents who knowingly flout their obligations and rent out accommodation that is unlicensed or unsafe.
“We want people to understand that landlords of HMOs who fail to apply for a licence will be committing an offence which may result in a large fine, or even in a prosecution.”
If you believe your rental property may be a HMO, or you have concerns about your living conditions, you can contact Central Bedfordshire Council at firstname.lastname@example.org.