Property agents fined over £100k for letting unsafe home in King’s Cross
Property agents operating in Camden have been fined over £100,000 for letting an unlicensed and unsafe home in King’s Cross.
Simple Properties London Ltd, Simple Properties Management Ltd and the businesses’ corresponding directors Santiago Hidalgo Ferrin, 39, of Cottage Street E14, and Miguel Cabeo Cespedes, 48, of Windsor Ave SW19, were handed £106,000 in fines and costs at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court on Friday 6 February.
The prosecution follows Camden Council officers carrying out several visits to the Acton Street property in May 2019 after it was identified as an unlicensed House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) with numerous safety issues.
Officers found that the flat’s kitchen diner had been improperly partitioned to make the two bed flat into a four bedroom property that was home to five residents.
Damaged wiring to a washing machine was left exposed in the bathroom and both the fire alarms and fire escapes from the property were found to be inadequate.
The court found Simple Properties Management Ltd guilty of operating an unlicensed HMO and breaching safety regulations resulting in a £40,000 fine and a £30,000 fine for the company’s director, Mr Cespedes.
Simple Properties London Ltd and its director, Mr Ferrin, both pleaded guilty to operating the unlicensed HMO in Acton Street and were each fined £18,000.
Roomshub Limited, a third party involved in the letting of the Acton Street property, and the business’ director, Liv Meijer, 27, of Whitechapel Road E1, were each fined £2,500 for not complying with a Camden Council notice requesting legal information.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) include flat shares, student homes, bedsits and some buildings that have been converted into flats. In the London Borough of Camden, all HMOs occupied by three or more people with shared facilities need to by licensed. Certain buildings converted into flats (section 257 HMOs) also require licensing.
Councillor Meric Apak, Cabinet Member for Better Homes at Camden Council commented:
“Around a third of Camden residents rent from private landlords and they deserve to live in properly regulated and safe homes.
“Most landlords are decent law abiding people however for too long a minority have been able to let housing that may be unfit for human habitation, is overcrowded and in which fire and general safety are both woefully disregarded.
“Our HMO licensing scheme is improving the standards in Camden’s private housing, empowering renters to take action and helping good landlords to run successful businesses.
“The prosecution we have seen in this case is a last resort. Our message to landlords and letting agents is that we are here to work with you, and provide advice and assistance first of all, to ensure you can meet your obligations.“
The council is currently proposing to renew their additional licensing scheme for another five years. To have your say on the consultation visit camden.gov.uk/hmoconsult by Sunday 8 March 2020.
A free guide containing more detailed information about property licensing in the London Borough of Camden is available here.
For all the latest news and events, you can sign up for the free London Property Licensing newsletter here.