Reading Council has prosecuted a pair of landlords for operating an unlicensed HMO.
Mohammed Zulfiquar Wahid, aged 41, and Mohammed Ghafoor Ahmed, aged 40, both of Pell Street in Reading admitted having control of or managing a house in multiple occupation (HMO) without having a current licence to do so.
The pair were fined a total of £8,000 and ordered to pay over £2,000 in costs after Reading Council’s private sector housing team’s successful prosecution.
The Council started their investigation in November 2013 after one of the six tenants in the property at the time reported the landlords to the Council. The housing team then discovered that the property had been operating unlicensed as an HMO since 2011.
A spokesperson for Reading Council said that landlords renting out a property with 3 or more storeys and 5 or more occupants must have a license from the their Council to do so.
In most cases tenants are able to check if their landlord has a licence on their local Council websites, where provision is usually made for reporting unlicensed HMOs using an on-line form.
Councils throughout the UK take these offences seriously as tenant safety is a priority in HMOs, which have been shown to pose a higher safety risk that single lets.
Operating HMOs legally requires planning approval, stringent safety features in the property, such as fire doors and hard wired fire alarms system, statutory management provisions such as regular fire risk assessments, and formal licences to operate.