The landlord based in Evesham was found to be housing 11 EU migrant workers in a HMO property which required a licence to operate.
The landlord was ordered to pay £14,500 after he was found to be illegally renting his property to the migrants without a current HMO licence in place and with several safety issues.
Wychavon District Council has issued four civil penalty notices to the landlord for a number of management regulation breaches as well as the lack of the licence.
The Council’s action follows an inspection of a three-storey HMO property located in Waterside, by its Private Sector Housing Team and the Police on 20 March 2019.
This is the occasion in which the Wychavon Council has invoked the relatively new procedure of using civil penalties as a quicker means of enforcement that going to court. The civil penalty enforcement route was introduced last year as part of a government initiative to crackdown on rouge landlords and in particular those operating their HMOs without a licence.
On inspection a number of hazards were discovered within the property, including poor internal layout, poorly working fire alarms, no fire doors or compartmentation and the kitchen lacked a working oven. Inspectors also found a family sharing a single room, unrelated adults sharing rooms and overall the house was being used by eight adults and three children.
Wychavon Council is now forcing the landlord to fix these issues which pose a serious risk to the tenants living there.
The landlord was collecting £810 rent per week in cash for the property, a total of £42,000 per year.
An HMO is defined in law as a property rented out to at least three people who are not from the same ‘household’ (for example, a family) but sharing facilities such as the bathroom and kitchen. It is a legal requirement that landlords operating HMOs must have the appropriate planning approval and a current HMO licence issued by their local authority.
Wychavon Council’s private sector housing team has been working together with the police and the Gangmaster and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) to identify potential abuses of the housing rules, in particular those for migrants, in the area and undertake inspections of the properties. This is to ensure the condition of properties is compliant with the health, safety or welfare regulations to ensure the safety of the occupants and that they are not victims of modern slavery.
Cllr Christopher Day, Executive Board Member for Housing, Health and Wellbeing on Wychavon District Council, said:
“Landlords like this are taking advantage of vulnerable people who have a lack of knowledge of the legislation surrounding renting in the UK. We hope this serves as a clear warning that we are cracking down on illegal HMOs in the area and there will be severe consequences for not abiding by the law.”