Landlords 'punished for HMO breaches'

by Sarah Ashcroft

Landlords would be well advised to think long and hard about houses of multiple occupation (HMO) regulations before permitting more than one person to live at a property they are renting out.

The Oxford Mail has told how several property owners in the city have been penalised since a crackdown by the city council came into effect. Indeed, some 34 landlords have now been hit with fines totalling more than £55,000 on the back of the project.

Mohammed Abbas, 38, of Cowley became the latest to be successfully prosecuted during a recent appearance at Oxford Magistrates' Court. He pleaded guilty to six charges relating to renting out a property, including a failure to have a licence for an HMO.

Five people were found to be living in a five-bedroom house owned by Mr Abbas when council inspectors visited in May last year. As he did not have the correct permission to own and manage an HMO, he was taken to court.

New rules on HMOs came into force in January 2011, meaning it is now harder than ever to get away with renting out a property to numerous occupants without having the correct documentation in place.

Speaking in court, Mr Abbas said: "I didn't know anything about the HMO and I know everything now. I have applied for an HMO. If I had known in the first place, I would have done it then and there."

The fact he has still been successfully prosecuted may indicate that ignorance is no defence when faced with HMO charges. As such, it is worth sticking by the rules and ensuring the relevant licence is in place prior to renting out a home.

All landlords who own a property with five or more bedrooms or three or more floors are required to possess an HMO licence, as a result of the most recent alterations to legislation. Those who rent a home to three or more students or professionals also need a licence.

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Published on: February 26, 2013

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