Barnet Council announce HMO licensing amnesty until 31 July 2015
An amnesty on the licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) is being held in Barnet, north London following the successful prosecution of a private landlord.
Owners and managers of unlicensed HMOs have until 31 July 2015 to apply for a licence without fear of enforcement action, according to Re, the joint venture between the London Borough of Barnet and Capita.
A similar HMO licensing amnesty run by Redbridge Council in Sumer 2014 lead to an extra 16 applications being received.
In Barnet, HMO licensing applies to properties that are three or more storeys high and are rented to five or more people who form more than one household, who share a toilet, kitchen or bathroom. HMOs must also meet certain standards in areas like fire safety. In January 2015, Barnet Council told London Property Licensing that they had already licensed 145 HMOs in the borough.
The amnesty comes after Knights Island Capital Ltd – trading under the name of Endeavour Living – and its two directors, Nikola Bonacic and Ben Patrick, were ordered to pay more than £10,000 in fines and costs for not having licensed a three-storey HMO in Rodborough Road, Golders Green.
Bonacic and Patrick pleaded guilty individually, and on their company’s behalf, to failing to license a HMO at Willesden Magistrates Court on 26 May 2015. The two directors and the company were each fined £2,000 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120 and full costs of £1,247.66.
In October 2014, one of the eight tenants living at the house, contacted Re with complaints about the bin stores, poor water pressure, potentially dangerous electrics and to report that there had been no gas or fire safety checks since 2013.
Officers wrote to Endeavour Living about the property but the company denied that it needed to be licensed. However, when environmental health officers visited the house on 9th December 2014, they found that it had been turned into eight bedsits and had only two smoke alarms, instead of the interlinked fire alarm system it should have had. There were seven people living in the house, all sharing bathrooms and a kitchen, but tenants confirmed that until recently another tenant had also been living there.
Re director, Alun Parfitt, said: “The company and directors in this case acted unscrupulously and held no regard for any of the tenants or their personal safety. The high fines and costs send a strong message that we are making sure these rogue landlords are held accountable.
“I am urging landlords to come forward during this month’s amnesty without fear of enforcement to get their properties licensed so that we can help make Barnet a better and safer place to live.“
Councillor Tom Davey, Chairman of the London Borough of Barnet’s Housing Committee, said: “Ultimately this is a win-win for landlords and tenants in the borough. As well as an opportunity for landlords to come forward and avoid receiving huge financial penalties, the amnesty means tenants of newly licensed HMOs will have the peace of mind of knowing that their property will have new safeguards in place that they previously lacked. This is good news for all involved.“
Landlords with licensable but unlicensed HMOs can contact Barnet’s environmental health team until 31 July 2015 with full details of their properties and will then need to make an immediate licensing application. Contact the team on 0208 359 7454, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.barnet.gov.uk for more information.
Information on property licensing in Barnet is also available at www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/barnet.