A Luton landlord has been ordered to pay nearly £30,000 to the council by Luton Crown Court.
The defendant must make the payment within three months or face a prison term of nine months.
Mervyn Kupshik of Adelaide Close, Stanmore, who operated five properties as houses in multiple occupation in Dallow Road, Edward St, Tennyson Road, Eldon Road and Baker Street, was found to be in breach of house in multiple occupation regulations at each of those properties. He also had failed to license them and paid scant regard to fire regulations.
The court noted that even though the breaches were for a relatively short period of time they could have had catastrophic consequences for occupants. Among the defects noted were blocked fire exits; faulty wiring and electrical equipment; combustible material present in key escape routes; no devices for detection of fire – or where these were present, they weren’t working properly. Additionally the houses were in a general state of disrepair with holes in the walls and broken glass.
Cllr Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for housing, said: “Once again through the hard work of council officers the lives of tenants in Luton have been made safer. The implications of this case will, I hope, cause any rogue landlord to sleep badly at night.
“Often unscrupulous individuals see the opportunity to make a fast buck without any regard for those they exploit. The law around houses in multiple occupation is there to protect the vulnerable and stop them from living in squalid unsafe conditions.
“This is the first time the council has brought a case against a private sector landlord using the powers of POCA. We hope it will be the last, but are not afraid to bring further prosecutions if necessary. Our message is clear: if you play fast and loose with your tenants, we will make you pay.”
Being a landlord carries with it significant legal responsibilities and we are continuing our Rogue Landlord Project which aims to protect tenants and prevent them being ripped off by unscrupulous individuals.
It is easy to check on a specific property. There is a full list of registered HMOs on our HMOs page. Residents can report concerns by emailing HMO.firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01582 547222 in complete confidence.
Anyone operating an HMO without the appropriate licence, is committing an offence and risks both a criminal record and an unlimited fine on summary conviction.