Letting agent fined £41,000 for HMO safety breaches

AFS Team·3 July 2013·3 min read
Letting agent fined £41,000 for HMO safety breaches
A council has won a court case against a letting agent for breaching health and safety laws at an HMO that does not need a licence.

In the case, the letting agent admitted the failings at shared houses, even though property seemingly is not covered by the Housing Act.

Strats Estates and Lettings admitted 13 offences of house in multiple occupation management failings at five properties in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

Watford magistrates fined the firm £16,200 and ordered them to pay the council’s £25,000 legal costs.

The court was told the council had concerns about the safety of tenants in the homes.

Inspections at the properties revealed fire safety breaches, including smoke detectors that did not work insecure handrails on stairways and locked fire exits.

Councillor Roger Trigg, executive member for housing and community said: "We are delighted with this outcome, which is a great result. These offences related to fire safety and if not dealt with, could have led to serious injury and even death.

"Our aim is to protect the safety of tenants and the council wants to work with private landlords and agents as much as possible. We regard prosecution as a last resort, but we would like to send out a clear message to landlords and agents who do not respond to the advice, information and support that we provide, that we will take enforcement action against those who do not comply with the law.”

The Welwyn and Hatfield Council licences 300 HMOs in Hertfordshire. Strats Lettings is the first letting agent prosecuted for HMO management offences.

The firm could now face a ban from running HMOs as the conviction is likely to mean the letting agency is unfit under the Housing Act as a manager of shared homes.