A landlord and a letting agency have been fined more than £26,000 between them after being found guilty of housing offences. This follows a multi-agency operation carried out at two properties in Luton last year.
Adrian Simion, 30, formerly of Wolston Close, Luton, and lettings agent Altavon Property Management Ltd, were found guilty at Luton Magistrates court on Tuesday 24th January for a series of offences involving HMO management regulations breaches. These breaches relate to the safety in the properties and the running of illegal houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
The defendants Simion and the lettings agency were convicted in their absence as neither party attended the court hearings.
Luton magistrates imposed fines totalling nearly £7,000 on Simion for two offences of failing to have a licence to operate a licensable HMO, plus nine separate management regulation breaches. He was ordered to pay £500 costs and £110 victim surcharge.
Altavon Property Management were fined £10,000 for failure to licence the HMOs and then £2,500 for each of four management breaches, £500 costs and £120 victim surcharge.
Luton Council has supported the people living at the properties who were also subsequently supported by the Romanian Embassy, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Citizens Advice Luton and various charities.
Cllr Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for housing at Luton Council said:
“We hope that this prosecution sends a very strong message that we will act on information we receive especially if we suspect that people are being exploited.
“Our rogue landlord project, in partnership with the police, fire and rescue service and other organisations is taking action against these landlords who expect people to live in overcrowded and unsafe conditions. We will not hesitate to prosecute as part of driving up the standard of our housing in Luton.”
Superintendent David Cestaro, Bedfordshire Police lead for Modern Slavery, said:
“While no offences under the Modern Slavery Act were identified from this particular operation, we have managed to safeguard people who were taken advantage of by being provided substandard living arrangements.
“We continue to ask members of the public, and professionals in public-facing roles, to trust their instincts and report anything which they believe could be a sign of someone being exploited, whether that be for labour, domestic servitude, sex or crime. We work hard with partners and businesses to raise awareness and educate our communities, as we need people to be vigilant and be confident in coming forward.”
Luton Council, which publishes a full list of registered HMOs on its website www.luton.gov.uk/hmo and is calling for the public to report illegal operations and “beds in sheds” to the Council – email HMO.Hotline@luton.gov.uk or call 01582 547222 in complete confidence.
Landlord & letting agent fined over £26k https://t.co/W0Z5mGh2pp
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) February 13, 2017