A “bumbling, amateur and sweary” landlord who imposed restrictive rules on tenants within his unlicensed HMO has been hit with a £27,500 Rent Repayment Order.
Andrew Balance shared his seven-bedroom detached house in Mile End (pictured), with up to seven people, granting them a lodger’s licence agreement and charging them between £400 and £650 a month rent.
A First Tier Property Tribunal heard that the landlord had a house rule that they had to vacate the property between 9am and 5pm, ostensibly to allow him to see clients for his intended career as a therapist - although no clients ever came to the property.
There were no fire alarms or smoke detectors and Balance only installed the alarms – which were not adequate - when prompted by Tower Hamlets Council.
Instead of applying for an HMO licence, the landlord promised he would evict all the ‘lodgers’ and stop letting out the rooms, which he did, but promptly resumed letting out the rooms to other people.
The landlord was also reluctant to employ professionals and attempted most of the maintenance himself.
As a result, it took him eight months to fix a broken window. The tribunal heard that Balance also played computer games in his room – which the lodgers had to go through to get to the laundry and freezer - throughout the day and night.
He would often shout and swear loudly while doing this and entered their rooms at any time.
The judge added: “The evidence shows that he did not know what he was doing but just didn’t care. His lack of knowledge is no excuse for his behaviour, as a bumbling amateur can be just as dangerous as a professional who only cares about making money.”
Four lodgers shared the £27,500 pay-out and were reimbursed £600 in costs.