News

Landlords convicted for operating unlicensed HMOs in Barnet and Camden

Monday, July 2, 2018 - Barnet & Camden Councils

Three landlords have been fined a total of £24,170 including costs, for failing to have a licence for a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

Chiabass Lawrence, who has been managing HMOs across London since 2003, pleaded guilty at Willesden Magistrates’ Court on 19 June for failing to acquire a HMO licence without reasonable excuse. Mr Lawrence and his property management companies, OGAS Group Ltd and LT Group, were prosecuted under Barnet Council’s additional HMO licensing scheme for breaching property management regulations.

The council was made aware of the unlicensed, two-storey property following noise complaints from neighbouring residents. Upon inspection, Barnet Council’s Enforcement Team found that nine different tenants under different letting agreements were sharing a single kitchen and bathroom, with no satisfactory means of fire escape or fire detection

One of the more dangerous lettings was formed by placing a partition in the kitchen which, in the event of a kitchen fire, would leave the tenant completely trapped.

Barnet Council landlord prosecution June 2018

Photo above showing window to inner room, which opens directly onto another room (pictured below)

Barnet Council landlord prosecution June 2018

After the District Judge had seen the photos of the undersized rooms, he concluded that Mr Lawrence was aware that an HMO licence was required for the property and that the letting of undersized rooms was strictly prohibited, despite Mr Lawrence’s defence that the property had only been unlicensed for three months. Mr Lawrence and his property management companies were sentenced for the calculated risk they took.

Councillor Gabriel Rozenberg, Chair of the Housing Committee at Barnet Council said:

This unlicensed rental property was in an unacceptable and dangerous state and I am glad to see this recognised in court.

Our message to tenants facing rogue landlords is simple: we are on your side. Managers of HMOs who do not have the necessary licence should expect to be prosecuted or issued with a Penalty Notice of up to £30,000 per offence.

Another landlord prosecuted for unlicensed HMO in Swiss Cottage

Meanwhile, on the 7 June at Highbury Corner Court, Mr Audrius Budynas  (aka Kudynas) of Southfields, NW4 was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 costs for failure to license a flat in multiple occupation in Regency Lodge, Swiss Cottage.

He was fined an additional £2,000 for failing to comply with legal notices issued by the Council that required information essential to the investigation.

Council officers had carried out an early morning raid at the unlicensed flat after the London Fire Brigade attended a small fire at the flat in September 2017 and raised concerns.

Knights Island Capital Ltd and a director were also fined £1,000 each for failing to comply with legal notices from the Council requesting information. 

Camden Trading Standards officers assisted housing enforcement officers with the investigation as the trading practices of the agent also required investigation.

For more information on the property licensing schemes in Barnet, visit www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/barnet and for information about the scheme in Camden, visit www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/camden

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