Owner fined for serious safety failings in House of Multiple Occupation (HMO)
Drivehall Ltd, the owner of 1B Brook House, in Cullompton has been fined £18,000 plus costs for breaches in regulations pertaining to the Housing Act 2004, following a hearing in Exeter Magistrates' on 7 August 2020.
The company, which chose not have representatives at the hearing, were found guilty of nine serious breaches of The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 and fined £2,000 per breach. The Council was awarded costs of £2,301 and a victim surcharge of £181 was also applied.
The case was put forward for prosecution by the Council’s Legal and Public Health teams following an inspection of the flat in January 2020. Private Sector Housing Officers found that the four-bedroomed flat was occupied by up to 16 migrant workers.
Working alongside Fire and Police colleagues, Council staff found dangerous conditions in relation to: fire safety and the means of escape; a rat infested kitchen; no mains lighting, and; mattresses throughout the property, including in the hallway by the back door and in the kitchen. Such was the severity of the conditions, the Fire Service served a Prohibition Notice preventing its ongoing use as a residence.
Drivehall Ltd were found guilty of nine offences, including: failure to ensure means of escape from fire were maintained in good repair; failure to ensure the fire alarm was maintained in good working order, and; failure to ensure the kitchen was maintained in a safe and working condition.
Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Bob Evans said:
“We are pleased with this result and as with the case we had last year, this is a warning that we will continue to take action where the safety of tenants has been put at serious risk. We urge landlords to work closely with our private sector housing officers to ensure they are providing safe housing for our residents.”
Simon Newcombe, Mid Devon District Council Group Manager for Public Health and Regulatory Services, said:
“The outcome of this prosecution is testament to the professionalism and determination of my officers, and our legal team. We will continue to take action on behalf of vulnerable residents who are living in unacceptable and potentially life-threatening conditions.”
The Council not only enforces housing conditions in the private rented sector, but it also provides advice aimed at helping landlords to meet their legal obligations. Furthermore, landlords can now also receive industry related advice directly by subscribing to the Council's Pin Point news-bites for landlords topic via its free email subscription service.