A landlord in Reading is the latest to be slapped with a huge penalty for operating an unlicensed HMO which also posed a fire risk.
The prosecution was initiated by Reading Council which takes an ‘Olympic’ approach to licensing management; awarding good landlords gold, silver and bronze medals but coming down hard on those who don’t join in the ‘games’.
Mohammad Basharat, 57, of London Road in the town, admitted operating the property in Blenheim Road (pictured) without a licence and failing to maintain smoke detectors, following an investigation by the council’s private sector housing team between May and July 2019.
Reading Magistrates Court fined him £14,065 for the offences as well as £3,000 costs and a victim surcharge of £170.
Lead member for housing, Ellie Emberson, says it’s yet another example of how its housing team is helping to protect the rights and safety of private renters.
She adds: “The successful prosecution should be seen as a strong warning to landlords all over the borough that they must comply with the rules or face the consequences.”
The team enforces the borough’s HMO licensing scheme, which covers 1,300 licensed HMOs, while its Reading Rent with Confidence Scheme aims to improve housing standards in the borough by accrediting landlords’ achievements based on criteria which also work to produce good property management services.
Emberson (pictured) adds: “Our Reading Rent with Confidence scheme is helping by awarding gold, silver and bronze standards based on the quality of accommodation and good management practices.
“By providing good landlords with a market advantage and potential tenants with confidence, along with prosecuting substandard landlords, we are showing our commitment to high-quality housing for all of Reading’s renters.”
Basharat got off lightly, it can be argued. In January Mohammed Zahir was was given a £66,000 fine for a similar offence.