Letting agents fined over unlicensed flats

Letting agents fined over unlicensed flats

Two letting agencies have been hit with a bill of more than £42,000 after a judge ruled they had managed three unsafe and unlicensed flats.

The properties in question were classed as houses in multiple occupation (HMO) and therefore required a HMO licence, which none of flats had. However, one of the agencies argued that they had no part in the management of the property and were only responsible for taking the tenant’s deposit, along with the first month’s rent.

The court dismissed this claim and the fines were imposed.

The two agencies were prosecuted by the local authority on 12 charges related to failing to register the properties as homes in multiple occupation. There were an additional nine charges, which arose from the condition of flats in relation to HMO Management regulations.

The council had been made aware of the properties following complaints from the tenants regarding the poor conditions, which included a rat infestation, damp, fire safety problems and rotten windows.

The agents had ignored requests for the poor conditions to be dealt with and improved, resulting in the legal action taken by the local authority.

The agencies were fined £25,050 for the failure to obtain a licence, with one hit by a further £6,975 fine for a breach of regulations. With costs and victim surcharges also thrown in, the total bill surpassed £42,000.