A rogue landlord has had his appeal thrown out after a first-tier tribunal ruled he had failed to protect tenants’ deposits and welfare at his unlicensed HMO.
Lambeth Council brought the prosecution against Fernando Brown – known as Fred – of Holmewood Road, South Norwood, who was fined £18,500 for housing eight tenants in the six-bedroom property in Herne Hill.
The council’s environmental health team was alerted by a tenant after bailiffs turned up to demand council tax arrears from Brown’s son Andrew.
The tenants confirmed their landlord collected rent money in person and always in cash. Investigations revealed Brown often failed to provide rent receipts, had no written tenancy agreement with any of the occupants and did not protect their deposits.
During the inspection, several defects including a lack of fire precautions were spotted and an improvement notice was served. A follow-up inspection found the eight tenants were still living at the property and the previous notice had been ignored.
The council issued a proposed fine of £24,999 as it said Brown had been motivated by financial gain by not paying £1,674 for a five-year HMO licence and failing to comply with the authority for almost a year.
During the tribunal, Brown claimed he had signed a tenancy agreement with three people in 2015 and thought they still lived at the property.
He claimed to have been misled and applied for possession of the property when he found out there were eight tenants. The tribunal upheld the original decision but reduced the financial penalty to £18,500.
Councillor Maria Kay (pictured), cabinet member for housing and homelessness, says: “Unscrupulous landlords who put profit ahead of their tenants’ safety and wellbeing will not be tolerated in our borough. I am pleased that the tribunal recognised the gravity of the breach Mr Brown committed and agreed his actions were serious enough to warrant a substantial penalty.”