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£6,000 HMO fine was ‘too lenient’

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A Portsmouth letting agent that challenged a fine imposed by the council for letting a property without an HMO licence has had its penalty doubled to £12,000.

The council has cited the 2020 case to demonstrate its determination to act against ‘rogue landlords’.

City Council Enforcement officers fined both the HMO landlord and ‘a large local lettings agency in Portsmouth’ £6,000 each. They had been ‘made aware’ that 12 unrelated people were living in a former pub which had no HMO licence.

‘Whilst the landlord accepted and paid the fine, the agency took the decision to appeal the fine. When the appeal was heard the court supported the council’s action but also decided that the council had been too lenient, increasing the agencies level of fine to £12,000’, reported the council.

All rental properties that are HMO’s are required to be licenced and comply with mandatory HMO management regulations.

Landlords and agents must take their legal responsibilities seriously. As well as making sure they have a property licence in place, landlords and agents should make sure that they are keeping up to date, and complying with all of the relevant regulations.

Landlords and agents have a range of responsibilities, including keeping properties safe and free from hazards, making sure all gas and electrical equipment is tested and maintained, and protecting tenant’s deposits in a government approved scheme.

The council has powers to issue substantial fines of up to £30,000 per offence for non-compliance with legal responsibilities.

Last year the council’s housing enforcement officers imposed £38,500 in fines ‘to rogue landlords and agents caught breaking property housing laws in Portsmouth’.

‘We will not tolerate landlords acting irresponsibly. Landlords and agents must take their responsibility seriously and ensure that they are following legislations and laws in place to keep people safe’, said councillor Darren Sanders, cabinet member for housing and preventing homelessness.

‘We will continue to issue fines to those who continue to break the law’.