Mitcham landlord prosecuted for operating unlicensed HMO with inadequate fire precautions

Monday, June 14th, 2021 - Merton Council

Merton Council has successfully prosecuted a Mitcham landlord for renting out an unauthorised and unsafe House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

At a hearing in Lavender Hill Magistrates’ Court on 4 May, Daniella Mbachu, who owns property in Hill Road in Mitcham, was found guilty of failing to apply for an HMO licence and lack of an adequate fire escape route, fire alarm system and other fire precautions.

As a result, she has been ordered to pay £13,800 in fines, a £190 victim surcharge, and prosecution costs of £2,530 – resulting in a total penalty of £16,520.

In the London Borough of Merton, almost all HMOs occupied by five or more people comprising two or more households must be licensed with the council. This is primarily so the local authority can ensure that health and safety standards are met in high risk HMO.

Councillor Martin Whelton, Merton’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and the Climate Emergency, said:

Regardless of whether you own property or rent, everyone should be entitled to safe and secure housing. Merton will not hesitate to go after landlords who break the rules and cut corners which puts their tenant’s safety at risk. Letting out a property cannot be seen as just a quick way of generating profit, landlords have a responsibility to their tenants, and we will hold them to account if they let them down.

We know that the private-rented sector is a vital part of our housing supply, but poor standards will not be tolerated, and those who break the rules and put tenants at risk will face the consequences.

Applying for an HMO licence might seem daunting, but if your property is up to scratch it’s a quick and easy process, and it’ll end up saving you a lot more than if you’re caught without one.

A free guide containing more detailed information about property licensing and HMO planning rules in the London Borough of Merton is available here.

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