A landlord pair have been ordered to pay more than £34,000 in back rent to six tenants after sub-letting their unsafe, unlicensed HMO via a rent-to-rent deal.
James and Catherine Doig were slapped with the rent repayment order despite insisting that they didn’t know about licensing rules.
The pair had let the property in Fordwych Road, Camden (pictured), to Rosemary Espinosa and Victoria Lai since 2009 on annually renewed tenancy agreements for a monthly rent of £2,600, who then sublet it to individual tenants, collecting monthly rental payments totalling £2,920.
Camden Council officers found nine tenants in four households using the property and sharing bathrooms and kitchen facilities.
They also uncovered numerous safety issues including obstructed fire escapes, inadequate fire doors, untested fire alarms and smoke detectors that didn’t work.
There were also large piles of personal items and furniture throughout the common areas of the house.
Ignorance and confusion
James Doig told the First Tier Property Tribunal that he knew nothing about HMO licencing, pleading ignorance, confusion and an inability to manage paperwork.
He claimed the pair didn’t realise it had been sub-let but admitted they had visited the property and seen other people living there who they didn’t know.
Doig suggested that Rosemary Espinosa and Victoria Lai should have applied for a licence.
The tribunal noted that the couple had never expressed concern about the dangers faced by the tenants as a result of their failures to comply with statutory HMO letting requirements, nor did they express any regret that this had happened.
Tenants Redindo Felix, Amor Bustamente, Rosemary Burias, Esperanza Ford, Luz Tonido and Ireno Tonido will be paid a total of £34,843 as well as £300 fees. Since the council’s enforcement order the Doigs have now applied for a licence.