The manager of a two-storey flat has been ordered to pay £5,270 as part of an ongoing drive by Barnet Council to combat illegal landlords.
Hefty bill for manager of HMO flat
The investigation against Martha O’Sullivan began after a complaint from the managing agent of a block of flats that multiple people were living in the property she managed.
Council officers discovered that there was no fire alarm system in the flat and no door to its kitchen, posing a life-threatening risk to its occupants. There were at least four tenants living within four separate lettings at the Woodhouse Road property in Friern Barnet.
If Ms O’Sullivan had applied to the council for a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence – as required by law – officers could have worked with her to resolve these issues. Instead she was convicted at Willesden Magistrates’ Court for failing to acquire a HMO licence and properly manage the flat, and for failing to provide information the council required. Ms O’Sullivan pleaded guilty to the charges during the hearing on Friday 10 January.
Councillor Dan Thomas, Leader of Barnet Council, said: “We are focused on making Barnet a great place to live, and this starts at home. Our residents have a right to live in a safe environment. If you’re responsible for the management of a HMO property, and you fail to obtain an HMO licence, we will use our full enforcement powers against you.”
The law applies not just to landlords, but to people managing HMO properties on their behalf. Martha O’Sullivan, who lived locally, was managing the Woodhouse Road property for her sister, who owned the flat but lived abroad. Ms O’Sullivan received the rent from the occupiers and was therefore responsible for licensing and managing the property. She was ordered to pay £3,100 in fines, £2,000 in costs and a £170 victim surcharge by Willesden Magistrates’ Court.
There are over 1,000 licensed HMOs in the borough, but many still require a licence. To learn more about the rules and regulations that the landlords and managers of HMOs must follow, visit www.barnet.gov.uk/HMOs.