Two Brighton landlords have been ordered to pay record fines for failing to register a “house in multiple occupation” (HMO).
Sarah Jordan, 45, was convicted of failing to register 32 Stroudley Road, near Brighton Station, as an HMO in a case brought by Brighton and Hove City Council.
Jordan, of Old Rectory Cottages, Thurlestone, Kingsbridge, Devon, was convicted at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court last Friday (4 December).
She was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay legal costs of £750, a criminal courts charge of £150 and a victim surcharge of £120.
Gagandeep Sethi, admitted failing to register 50 Carlyle Avenue, Brighton. The council said that the case was brought after “multiple attempts to avoid licensing”.
Sethi, of Walton Park, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay legal costs of £750, a criminal courts charge of £150 and a victim surcharge of £120.
The pair were prosecuted under the Housing Act 2004 although neither appeared in court and neither was represented. Sethi pleaded guilty by post.
The licensing regime was brought in three years ago in November 2012 in five wards where thousands of students live – and is being extended to seven more wards.
It affects houses not large enough to be covered by the national licensing criteria but which have two or more storeys and three or more occupiers.
Councillor Anne Meadows, who chairs the council’s Housing and New Homes Committee, said: “This sends out a strong message that landlords of shared homes or houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) should license their properties where a licence is required.
“The worst HMOs are some of the most dangerous properties so it’s right that we take action to protect our residents.
“Under HMO licensing we have seen hundreds of HMOs fitted with fire alarms, made safer generally and better managed.
“As part of the licensing process we inspect the houses and that allows us to ensure that they are safe.
“I am pleased that in imposing this level of fines the court has reflected the importance of licensing and that owners should not seek to avoid applying.
“We will continue to take action against those who do not apply so I would urge all owners and agents to ensure that they and their properties meet legal requirements.”