Two companies and a company director who illegally rented out his property without having the correct licence in place have been fined more than £6,000 in the courts.
The latest successful prosecution by Barnet Council brings the total number of cases of landlords prosecuted for failing to licence or manage their properties over the last 18 months to eight, with more than £200,000 fines issued. Rent totalling more than £20,000 has also been reclaimed from landlords by their tenants in two of the cases through Rent Repayment Orders.
A private tenant, council staff and members of Barnet Council's Corporate Anti-Fraud Teams (CAFT) gave evidence in a day long court hearing against Uptown Properties (UK) Ltd and YLR Ltd from Stratford, East London, who were charged with failing to licence the property on Gainsborough Road, N12. The court heard that the property has been divided into five bedsits occupied by seven tenants and that one of the rooms was being rented for £350 per month despite measuring just 4m² . The rental income for the entire property came to a total of £34,320 per year.
Both of the companies and Mr Rodrigo Chenkel, the director of Uptown Properties (UK) Ltd, were found guilty of failing to apply for a licence for the house in multiple occupation (HMO) 34A Gainsborough Court. Fines totalled £6,490 fines, with £2,854 costs and £220 victim surcharge awarded.
Landlords of certain HMOs are required to apply for a licence from Barnet Council. Failure to do so will result in the council taking the appropriate enforcement action. Even where the landlord subsequently applies for an HMO licence, as in this case, a prosecution may still be taken. The licensing and enforcement programme is managed by Re, Barnet Council’s joint venture with Capita.
Leader of Barnet Council, Councillor Richard Cornelius, said: “We are really pleased with this positive result. This latest prosecution sends out a clear message that unscrupulous individuals cannot hide behind their companies to avoid being convicted.
"It is our job to protect tenants' safety and we will take appropriate enforcement action if landlords fail to obtain a licence or manage their properties. I am pleased that the courts are supporting the council in this approach through the sentences and fines issued.
“The council has data on over 2,000 HMOs in the borough who have been contacted regarding their licence application and have so far failed to apply. Targeted enforcement action has already begun in relation to these properties and I urge landlords to submit their application now as a priority.”
Mark Dally, partnership director for Re, said: “These convictions are a testament to the work that Barnet Council and Re have done over the last year and a half to crack down on unlicensed HMOs. The licensing scheme protects Barnet’s residents from the impact of illegal rental accommodation, and this record of success shows that our programme is making a real difference.”