Warning to landlords cutting corners on safety as homeowner is fined

Housing and rental
Housing and rental

A woman who was caught renting out her property to tenants without a licence has been prosecuted by Dacorum Borough Council.

Shirley Bunker, of Washington Avenue, was also found guilty of a string of regulation breaches under the Housing Act – and the authority hopes her conviction will serve as a warning to other landlords operating in the same way.

Mrs Bunker, who owned the house in multiple occupation, was fined £3,400 for operating the premises without a licence and £500 for non-compliance with an improvement notice, with further fines for failing to ensure that required safety standards were met and sufficient amenities were provided – including fire and food safety provisions.

She was ordered to pay a total of £10,520, including legal costs of £3,500 and a £120 victim surcharge.

Nicholas Egerton, environmental protection and housing team leader for regulatory services at the local authority, said: “A house in multiple occupation licence is required if there are five or more people forming two or more households and the property has three or more storeys.

“In order to obtain a licence to operate a HMO, Mrs Bunker would have needed to carry out works to her property to ensure it was suitable to rent to tenants.

“Despite many warnings and a previous prosecution for a similar offence, no licence was obtained for the premises or any of the works carried out. We have now taken over management of the property for a 12 month period via an interim management order.

“The council will ensure the premises are bought up to a suitable standard and will recover all costs from the owner.”

Cabinet member for residents and regulatory services Neil Harden said: “The Council takes the safety of tenants in the private rented sector very seriously.

“Whilst Environmental Health Officers work closely with private sector landlords to ensure appropriate standards within HMOs, sometimes it is necessary to take enforcement action. We hope this sends a strong message to any private sector landlords who might be tempted to cut corners at the expense of tenants’ safety.”

For advice on houses in multiple occupation, click here.