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HMO landlord to pay £26,000 after adding storey to house

hmo planning

An HMO landlord who added another storey on his property to squeeze in more tenants has been ordered to pay £26,535 for breaching numerous safety rules.

Two of Syed Shah’s tenants raised the alarm last August when they reported ongoing building works at the property in Vicarage Road (pictured), including the removal of bedroom walls, and the unsafe storage of tools and building materials in escape routes.

Watford Council environmental health officers found multiple breaches that put tenant safety at risk, particularly in the event of a fire. These included compromised fire detection systems and escape routes, non-functioning fire doors, blocked escape routes, and missing smoke detectors and fire blankets.

Made safe

Officers prohibited the use of two bedrooms on the top floor until they were made safe while Shah was told to undertake emergency works to install guarding on the first-floor landing and in the kitchen to ensure tenant safety in the event of a fire.

They also discovered that the landlord had added a third storey to his property without appropriate licensing so that nine tenants were living in a three-storey property, exceeding the HMO licence occupancy rules. The property remains only licenced for seven tenants, the council's register reveals. There are three planning applications against the property on th Watford planning portal - one for a single-storey back extension and a loft conversion, which were granted and a third for a further extension, which was withrawn.

Shah pleaded guilty to all 13 offences when he appeared at St Albans Magistrates Court where he was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay additional court surcharges and legal costs.

Justine Hoy (pictured), associate director of housing and wellbeing, says the council won’t tolerate any compromises to housing standards that put lives at risk.

She adds: “This successful prosecution sends a clear message that we will hold rogue landlords accountable for their obligations to provide safe and secure accommodation.”


Hmo clampdown
Hmo fines