On Tuesday 10 November 2015, in Hereford Magistrates Court, a housing landlord, Mr Barclay Julian Rogers of New House Farm, Preston Wynne, pleaded guilty to operating an unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO) at 163 Whitecross Road, Hereford. Mr Rogers was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £1,035 costs to Herefordshire Council together with a victim surcharge of £120, for failing to licence this HMO.
Officers from the council’s environmental health housing team, accompanied by officers from Hereford & Worcester fire and rescue service and West Mercia police entered the property under warrant on 31 March 2015. They found a four storey HMO occupied by eight persons over three floors, including a basement where inadequate fire precautions were present.
Marc Willimont, head of regulatory and development management services, who was one of the officers who attended the property said, “This is a good result for the council and we are pleased that the fine reflected the seriousness of the offence. This landlord wilfully and deliberately put the lives of his tenants at risk, in this case vulnerable Eastern European workers, who would not have been knowledgeable about the housing and landlord obligations in the UK and who trusted that their accommodation was both safe and legal. This landlord cannot now be considered to be a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold a licence to operate an HMO under the Housing Act 2004.”
The council will continue their crackdown on rogue landlords in Herefordshire in partnership with the police, the fire service and immigration colleagues. We want to encourage our responsible landlords by deterring those who deliberately flout the law and put their tenants’ health & safety, and even their lives, at risk. The council’s housing team is actively targeting rogue and criminal landlords who try to avoid the licensing of their HMOs and who continue to let sub-standard poorly managed property, giving the private rented sector a bad reputation.”
It is the responsibility of landlords to ensure that they comply with the relevant housing and fire legislation.
If you think your rented property should be licensed, or you are a tenant with concerns about the condition of your property, you are advised to contact environmental health housing without delay on 01432 261761, or the Herefordshire Council website www.herefordshire.gov.uk/housing.