Landlord of unlicensed HMO prosecuted in wake of fire safety breaches
13 October 2020
A LANDLORD in Guildford has been fined for operating a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) without a licence. The landlord, namely David Wilce, was found guilty following a prosecution brought by private sector housing officers working for Guildford Borough Council.
Following a fire at the house, the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service raised concerns over fire safety. An inspection by Guildford Borough Council’s private sector housing officers then found that the three-storey house at 30 Woodbridge Road in Guildford, at the time home to six people, failed to meet HMO standards. This included smoke alarms which didn’t work, out-of-date fire equipment and the absence of heat and smoke alarms in rooms containing cooking equipment.
An HMO is defined as a house in which five or more unrelated adults live with shared facilities.
Wilce, the owner of the property at 30 Woodbridge Road, was fined £9,038 at Guildford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 9 September.
Speaking about the verdict, Councillor Caroline Reeves, lead for Housing and Development Control at Guildford Borough Council, stated: “We follow the compulsory HMO licensing scheme to protect tenants and improve the quality of privately-rented homes. It’s essential that we take action over serious breaches of the law to protect the health and well-being of tenants.”
Councillor Reeves continued: “I’m pleased that the size of this fine demonstrates the importance of HMO licensing. Responsible landlords who comply with the legislation have had their efforts rewarded by this case, with a clear message being sent out that we’re actively pursuing less responsible landlords. I would encourage both landlords and tenants to contact us if they have any concerns about their own or a neighbouring house.”
In conclusion, Councillor Reeves observed: “Our Regulatory Services team try to work informally with landlords, but we will not hesitate to take enforcement action where the health, safety and well-being of tenants is put at risk.”