A prominent HMO landlord company have received a substantial penalty for their negligence towards student tenants in Cardiff.
Mulberry Real Estate and its director, David Bryant, have been fined a collective £68,000 for putting students at risk through persistent ignorance of essential repairs. The fine was levied at Cardiff Magistrates Court, where Bryant and the company pleaded guilty to 11 offences.
Among the offences were failures to license two properties as HMOs and to carry out critical repairs to the fire doors, escape windows, and kitchens. The properties in question are located on Alfred Street and Arabella Street in Plasnewydd, Cardiff. Licences for both properties, which included conditions necessitating specific repairs within three months of issuance, expired in 2021.
Despite repeated reminders from the council, neither licence was renewed, and subsequent inspections in October 2022 revealed that the required works remained uncompleted, necessitating new HMO licences.
Councillor Lynda Thorne, Cabinet member for housing, expressed the court’s reaction, stating that the magistrates were “shocked” by the evidence the council presented. “Students were put at risk. The required works hadn’t been completed for seven years,” she lamented.
Councillor Thorne further expressed her hope that the substantial fines would serve as a deterrent to other landlords. “I hope this sentence sends a firm message to rogue landlords, that the court does take these matters very seriously, as is reflected by the level of the fines issued.”
The financial penalties were specifically divided between the firm and its director: Mulberry Real Estate was fined £31,995, and was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £2,000 along with costs of £251. Meanwhile, David Bryant was fined £36,300 and must pay a victim surcharge of £2,000 plus costs of £251.
This case highlights the importance of regulation and oversight in the housing market, particularly with regard to the safety of vulnerable tenants such as students. The heavy fines reflect the gravity with which the legal system views such negligence and the extent to which landlords must meet their obligations.