A rogue landlord and his firm have been fined more than £50,000 in fines and cost for renting out a dangerous and illegal flat as an HMO.

Francis Investments (East Anglia) of St Helens Street, Ipswich and director Ralph Bernard were both convicted of ten HMO-related offences.

Ipswich Borough Council, which is one of the most enthusiastic prosecutors of rogue landlords in the UK, found a range of fire safety concerns in June 2019 after Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service attended an incident and flagged up problems.

An employment agency was also concerned about the number of workers registered at the address.

Ipswich Magistrates Court heard that although planning permission had been granted for the building to be converted into four flats in 1996, it was converted into five flats including an apartment in the basement – despite being specifically prohibited by the council.

Officers also found the conversion works had not been signed off under building regulations.

Its investigation found a poorly positioned skylight into the rear yard of the basement flat used for natural light and ventilation, along with electrical defects throughout the building.

Pre-payment meter

A fire alarm system and communal lighting did not work properly because it was running on a pre-payment meter, ventilation ducts, doors and walls weren’t properly designed to protect the fire escape route from fire and smoke, and there were leaks and water damage throughout the building.

Bernard was fined £29,000 while his company was fined £7,250, with costs of £16,836 and a victim surcharge of £181.

Ian Blofield, the council’s head of housing and community services, says: “Flats and HMOs can pose additional risks to the health, safety and wellbeing of residents if they are not properly designed and managed. This case demonstrates that the council will hold to account those who disregard the law and put residents at risk.”

Read more about HMOs.


  1. Hello, I have been trying to register with with your forums but unable to do so. My account is created but you do not send me my confirmation email and I am unable to private message a board admin. Can you explain what the problem is, because I see other new users posting every day.

    Thank you.

  2. Maximise Your Rental Income With Guaranteed Rent
    Guaranteed Rental Income – Choose between 1-3 years
    No Void/Vacant Periods – We have a large list of tenants waiting
    More Free Time – We handle all the viewings and paper work
    Stress Free – We deal with all the tenant’s needs
    Big Savings – No commission or management fees to pay

    We take care of absolutely everything!

    We can furnish your property
    You won’t even have to pay upfront as we can spread the agreed costs over an agreed period

    We help improve your property
    Maximise your asset with professional portfolio managers who treat every home like their own

    We can fix your property
    From painting and decorating to a full refurb, our expert team can help you spread that cost too.

    We can maintain your property
    Whether it’s a leaky tap or a leaky roof, our qualified professionals are always on hand to help fix it

    We will always fill your property
    We’ve been providing our landlords with excellent guaranteed rents since 2004. We have grown to become one the most recognised property companies in and around London, the M25 and the Home Counties.

    Selling up?
    Landlords if you are thinking about cashing in your property or portfolio of properties and retiring to the sun or just want to put your feet up and relax then Assured Properties want to talk to you about buying your property. Save on fees and commissions by selling directly to Assured Properties.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here