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Kensington landlord and property management company fined almost half a million pounds for operating an unlicensed and poorly managed HMO

Thursday, November 9th, 2023 - Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea

A landlord and property management company operating a 22-bedroom house of multiple occupation (HMO) has been prosecuted by Kensington and Chelsea Council.

Following a complaint from a tenant back in 2020, the council begun an investigation which found the landlord had no HMO licence to operate the 22-bedroom house-share style property in a six storey Grade 2 listed Georgian townhouse.

Despite repeated warnings, the landlord did not apply for an HMO licence and the council eventually visited with the Police and London Fire Brigade. A dawn raid in 2021 uncovered multiple fire and mould risks to tenants at the 22-bedroom property in Hyde Park Gate, Kensington. At the time of the inspection, there were 13 tenants living there.

Officers found defective and damaged fire doors, inadequate fire separation, covered fire alarms, burnt out and loose electrical sockets. Tenants were cooking in their room using camping-style facilities without proper kitchen facilities. There was rising damp and mould growth throughout the property and single glazed windows with rotten frames, draughts and broken sashes. The inside of the property was so damp that mushrooms were growing on upper floors.

At Westminster Magistrate Court on 1 November 2023, Blackstone Properties Management Limited and the landlord, Mr Mohamed Ali Rasool, who was also a Director of the company, were found guilty of putting tenants at risk and fined a combined total of £480,000. Blackstone Properties Management Limited and the Mr Mohamed Ali Rasool were each fined £240,000 plus costs which is believed to be the highest fine for this type of offence.

Cllr Cem Kemahli, lead member for planning and public realm at Kensington & Chelsea, said:

Let this judgement be a clear lesson to other landlords and agents – if you are offering poor quality accommodation we will find you and will come after you.

We want the best homes in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Our landlord licensing schemes are seeking out the bad operators to ensure safer homes for everyone and a fairer market for good operators.

Privately rented homes form a crucial part of our housing mix but they must be up to scratch. Our teams stand by to help and assist landlords in answering concerns or offering suggestions about how to improve your properties.

In Kensington and Chelsea, the Council operates borough wide mandatory HMO and additional licensing schemes. Since June 2023, 400 landlords have applied for additional licences under the new scheme.

Our free guide containing more information about property licensing and HMO planning restrictions in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea is available here.

For all the latest news and events, you can sign up for the free London Property Licensing newsletter here.