Waltham Forest Council seize control of unlicensed HMO with 16 occupants
In an unusual move, Waltham Forest Council have used legal powers under the Housing Act 2004 to seize control of a House in Multiple Occupation that housed 16 people, including four people found living in a ‘bed in shed’ in the back garden.
By implementing an Interim Management Order at the address in Walthamstow, the council have taken over full responsibility for day-to-day management of the property.
Council officers visited the property and implemented the management order on 13 October. This involved changing the lock on the main door and informing tenants that the council would now be acting as their landlord with immediate effect. All rent will now be paid to the Council and legal notices have been sent to the owner to make him aware of this.
Photo showing the ‘bed in shed’ occupied by four people in the back garden
The Council say they took the decision to implement the management order as there had been a number of longstanding issues which the owner had made no effort to rectify. The three-storey building had its House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence revoked in July 2015 due to poor living conditions and overcrowding. The owner made no effort to re-licence the property or improve conditions and was prosecuted by the Council earlier this year.
According to the council, a number of planning breaches still exist at the property, including the top floor which has been converted into a self-contained flat and a large bed-in-shed in the back garden that was being occupied by four people.
The property was found to be occupied by 16 people, including several young children, generating a total monthly rent in excess of £4,000. Despite this, the council say that the owner had failed to pay the Council Tax bill since 2012 and is currently over £4,000 in arrears.
Since taking over the property, the Council has recorded details of the repairs and improvements required and will be revisiting the property with a contractor to confirm a price for carrying these out. This, along with any other management costs will be deducted from rent the authority received while it is acting as landlord.
The aim of implementing the IMO is to bring the property up to a good standard so that it can be re-licensed and controlled by a responsible agent. Although the Council does not have a confirmed address for the owner it hopes they will now come forward to deal with the outstanding breaches and settle any debts.
Cllr Khevyn Limbajee, Cabinet Member for Housing, Waltham Forest Council said:
“It’s obviously a last resort for us to have to take control of a property away from its owner, but we were given no choice due to this landlord’s poor attitude and lack of concern for the safety of his tenants.
“The majority of landlords operating in Waltham Forest are responsible, but we will not hesitate to take decisive action against the few who think they can get away with ignoring the law and putting their tenants at risk.“
More information about property licensing in Waltham Forest is available at www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/waltham-forest