Brighton landlord given £2,000 fine

Posted On 28 Sep 2010 at 7:28 pm

A Brighton landlord has been fined £2,000 for managing a house converted into flats without a licence.

Warwick Armsby-Ward was also ordered to pay £750 legal costs by Brighton Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty.

Armsby-Ward was fined for managing the property above Heist, a bar in West Street, Brighton.

The offence came to light after East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service raised concerns over fire precautions.

Armsby-Ward’s property had poorly protected escape routes and an inadequate fire alarm system.

During an inspection of Heist, fire safety officers found that five tenants were living above the premises.

For the past four years the law has required landlords renting out this sort of property – known as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) – to have a licence.

Brighton and Hove City Council said that more than 800 landlords had signed up for a licence with the council.

The cost starts at £640 for five years.

The fire service served a prohibition notice restricting residents from sleeping in the upstairs property until emergency work was completed.

That work has now been done.

Councillor Maria Caulfield, the council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “First and foremost the licensing scheme is there to protect tenants in the city.

“In the past HMOs have been criticised for having inadequate fire safety or lacking basic electrical checks.

“We will work with genuine new landlords who are not aware of the law but will prosecute those whose properties are dangerous or who might think that they can wait for the council to find them before applying to be licensed.”

The council said that the fine was a record in the city for this sort of breach.

It added that any HMO with three storeys or more occupied by five people or more in two or more households needed a licence if there were shared facilities such as bathrooms or kitchens.

One of the incidents prompting the current licensing regime happened in Palmeira Avenue, Hove, in 1992.

Five tenants died in a fire in a house converted into flats which was owned by controversial landlord Nicholas Hoogstraten.

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