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New rules see rogue landlords fined £55k
ROGUE landlords in Oxford have been fined more £55,000 as part of a crackdown on HMOs by the city council.
Thirty-four landlords have been successfully prosecuted or issued a formal caution since new rules on Houses of Multiple Occupation came into force in January 2011. In total, landlords have been ordered to pay £55,834 in fines by the courts.
Mohammed Abbas, 38, of Barns Road, Cowley, became the 34th to be successfully prosecuted at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
Abbas admitted six offences dated May 28, 2012, including failing to have a licence for an HMO, failing to protect occupants from injury because of structural conditions and not keeping the house in good decorative order.
He admitted another offence dated June 19, 2012, of failing to provide an electrical installation certificate.
Magistrates heard there was no fire protection in the semi-detached house also in Barns Road, including no fire door between the kitchen and the hallway, and the front drive was in a poor state of repair.
Abbas, who did not have legal representation, spoke Urdu through an interpreter.
He said: “Firstly I hardly speak any English and I didn’t know anything about this and how it works as far as the Act is concerned.
“I didn’t know anything about the HMO and I know everything now. I have applied for a HMO. If I had known in the first place I would have done it then and there.
“I apologise for not knowing at the time.”
Council environmental health officers visited the five bedroom house, which had five people living there, after being granted a warrant on May 25 last year.
Jeremy Franklin, representing the city council, said: “The council started receiving complaints about this property at the end of 2011. It made numerous attempts to contact Mr Abbas to arrange a convenient time to inspect the property.
“Appointments were made and continually postponed.”
Abbas, who works for pizza takeaway Dominos, said he has undertaken work on the house including gas and electrical works and has now applied for a HMO licence.
Landlords with homes of five or more bedrooms or three or more floors have needed a HMO licence since 2011.
Anyone renting properties to groups of three or more students or professionals must have a licence, undergo regular inspections and pay a fee of at least £362.
Abbas was fined a total of £1,250 for the seven offences, and told to pay £300 prosecution costs and a £15 victim surcharge.