A rogue landlord who operated an unsafe and unlicensed HMO has been handed a £12,000 fine and costs of nearly £4,000.

Brighton-based Ryan Otto, who is listed as a director of several property investment companies including one which companies house lists as in liquidation, converted a two-bedroom house in Barrack Road, Bexhill, into five bedsits in 2018, charging tenants between £370 and £470 a month.

When told he needed an HMO license, his application was refused by Rother Council as it deemed he was not a fit and proper person. Otto was told to reduce the number of tenants or find someone else to manage the property, but failed to do so.

As well as being a landlord, Otto has dabbled in ‘property investment’ advice in the past and until recently published his own podcast offering advice on evictions and tenancy management.

Poor conditions

Council officers inspected his property in March 2021 after one of his tenants complained about poor conditions. They served notices requiring him to make repairs and improvements to the house, including a broken toilet and shower cubicle and an electrical installation that had not been inspected and tested.

Hastings Magistrates Court fined Otto £6,000 for running an unlicensed HMO and £6,000 for breaching two improvement notices. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £190 and £3,705 costs.

terry byrne

Independent councillor Terry Byrne (pictured), the council’s portfolio holder for housing, says: “This clearly shows that our officers have the expertise and the will to pursue and prosecute private landlords who offer unsafe and sub-standard accommodation for rent on the private market.

“We are committed to raising standards in the sector and have several schemes to help landlords achieve these. We always prefer to work with landlords but if we do not get the required level of co-operation, we will prosecute.”

Read more guidance on HMO licensing.

Pic credit: Google Streetview

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