A landlord has been fined £6,000 over a “filthy” Brighton property which was a fire hazard and should have been registered as a shared house.
Antony Paul Martin, was prosecuted over the property in Upper Bevendean Avenue, Brighton.
Magistrates were told that the property had filthy living conditions and an obstructed fire escape route.
Martin had also failed to register the property as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) with Brighton and Hove City Council.
It fell within a licensing regime brought in by the council two years ago.
Martin pleaded guilty at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court to managing an HMO without the required licence and four breaches of housing management regulations.
He failed to ensure that
- the internal structure in each part of the HMO that is used as living accommodation is maintained in good repair
- all means of escape in case of fire were kept free from obstruction and maintained in good repair
- the yard was maintained in repair, good order and clean condition
- his name, address and telephone contact number as the person managing the HMO was displayed at the property
He was taken to court by the council last Friday (5 December). Magistrates were told that when officials visited the property they found that it was in a generally poor condition with
- tiles hanging off the kitchen ceiling
- holes in a bedroom ceiling
- means of escape obstructed
- the stair carpet was worn and causing a trip hazard
- items were dumped in the rear yard
- living conditions were filthy
- shared kitchen and bathrooms were poorly maintained
- no working fixed heating
- no fire alarm system
Investigations began after routine reminders to license the property in last year were ignored.
Martin was fined £2,000 for his failure to license the house and £1,000 for each of the four management offences, totalling £6,000.
He was also ordered to pay £600 costs and a £120 victim surcharge.
Councillor Bill Randall, the chairman of the council’s Housing Committee, said: “Residents living in the private rented sector shouldn’t have to languish in filthy properties that don’t have adequate fire alarms or escape routes.
“This prosecution underlines the need for licensing of HMOs which generally pose the biggest fire risks so that properties are inspected to protect the health and safety of residents.
“We will work with landlords to help them meet basic standards but if landlords fail to co-operate with us we will prosecute them
“So far more than 1,803 HMOs have been licensed under our successful additional licensing scheme.”
The council introduced the scheme in November 2012. It covers smaller HMOs in five wards – Hanover and Elm Grove, Hollingdean and Stanmer, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, Queen’s Park and St Peter’s and North Laine.
Under the scheme, HMOs in the five wards that have two or more storeys and are occupied by three or more tenants from two or more different families must be licensed.
This is in addition to the national mandatory HMO licensing scheme, which requires all HMOs with three or more storeys and five or more tenants from two or more different families to be licensed wherever they are situated.