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Two Oxford landlords fined over state of properties
TEN people lived in this East Oxford house, it has emerged as two rogue landlords were prosecuted.
Mulazim Hussain and Momodou Chune owned separate properties in Oxford that breached licensing and safety legislation.
Six landlords have been prosecuted under new houses of multiple occupation rules and last night Oxford City Council warned there would be more to come.
At Hussain’s house in Howard Street, East Oxford, 10 occupants lived in filthy conditions and the property was not licenced. Jeremy Franklin, prosecuting for the city council, told Oxford magistrates: “Towards the end of 2011, the council exercised its powers to bring in a licensing scheme relating to HMOs.
“The effect of that scheme is that from January 24, 2012, it became a requirement for all two-storey properties with five or more occupants who form two or more households to be licensed with the council.
“Whereas a breach of the requirements carries a maximum fine of £5,000, failing to licence the HMO carries a maximum fine of £20,000.
“What happened in this case was that on November 29 (Hussain) was the freehold owner of the property at 69 Howard Street, Oxford.”
Among 13 defects listed were faulty fire doors, an “extension socket behind the cooker at risk of burning”, building materials in the front and rear gardens and no electrical safety certificate.
Hussain, 71, of Drove Acre Road, East Oxford, did not attend court and was not represented.
In writing, he admitted failing to get a licence for an HMO and eight counts of breaching HMO regulations and was fined £6,730, a £15 victims’ surcharge and £250 costs.
Chune admitted four counts of failing to comply with HMO regulations and was fined £665, a £15 victims’ surcharge and £250 costs. At Chune’s home in Cuddesdon Way, Blackbird Leys, the council reported seven occupants when an officer visited on January 17.
Mr Franklin, who said “the regulations exist to ensure that HMOs are kept in a reasonable standard of maintenance, cleanliness and tidiness”, reported four breaches of regulations.
Chune, 44, had not displayed his name and contact details in the property, a downstairs smoke alarm was not working, the kitchen work surfaces were “grimy and not capable of being effectively cleaned” and the defendant could not produce a gas appliance test certificate. Chune, of Berry Close, Blackbird Leys, defended himself and denied there were seven occupants of the house.
He said the property was now managed by a lettings agent and was in much better shape. Mandy Holding, 49, is a neighbour of Chune’s property. Speaking after the hearing, she told the Oxford Mail she believed there were currently five foreign men living in the three-bedroom house. She said: “We have had all sorts in there.
“You never know how long they will be there and who the next lot will be,” she added. “It’s just ridiculous. He doesn’t look after the property.”
She said the former owner left nearly four years ago, adding: “When she had it, it was quite nice.” Hussain is a retired builder who has owned the Howard Street seven-bedroom home since 1981.
He receives about £2,000 a month in rent. Speaking after the hearing, he told the Oxford Mail he had tried to repair his property as soon as anything was reported wrong.
He said: “It’s not fair. I have tried my best to look after it.” He said he could not pay the fine and hoped to appeal. He also claimed some of the problems were caused by a “nuisance tenant”.
Oxford City Council has prosecuted six landlords for failure to licence since April.
Seven landlords have accepted formal cautions and eight cases are awaiting prosecution.
In another four cases, the council will offer the landlords formal cautions.
Ed Turner, deputy leader at the council, said it was important to impose tough penalties on rogue landlords. He said more prosecutions were likely to follow as Oxford had such a buoyant rental market.
He said: “The majority of landlords do a good professional job but we know in Oxford there is a minority who let there tenants down badly and sometimes put them in danger.”
PROBLEMS: The house in Howard Street
- Faulty fire doors
- Extension socket behind the cooker at risk of burning
- Building materials in the front and rear gardens
- Windows and ventilation not in good repair
- Fixtures and fittings not in clean, working order
- Garden not in safe and tidy condition
- No electrical safety certificate
- Proper lighting not fitted
- Downstairs smoke alarm not working
- Kitchen work surfaces “grimy and not capable of being effectively cleaned”
- Could not produce a gas appliance test certificate
- Failed to display his name and contact details in the property