A trio of Cambridge landlords have been fined more than £8,000 between them, after three separate Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in Cambridge were found to be unlicensed by Cambridge City Council.
An inspection of the first house on Chesterton Road was carried out after a review of council records in February this year. It found the property housing five tenants had been an unlicensed HMO since at least 2018, meaning it was potentially unsafe for the tenants living there.
The council utilised enforcement powers meaning it can issue a civil penalty as an alternative to prosecution in relation to certain offences. On 4 July the directors of the company owning the property were issued with a Financial Penalty Notice for the offence totalling £1,898.73.
An inspection of the second house on Victoria Road was carried out in February. It found the property was housing seven tenants and had been an unlicensed HMO since at least 2014 meaning it was also potentially unsafe for those living there. On 19 July the landlord was issued with a Financial Penalty Notice for the offence totalling £3,535.89.
Following a further proactive inspection of a property in the Buchan Street area, again in February, the council found it had not been licensed since October 2018 meaning it was also potentially unsafe for the tenants living there.
On 26 July the landlord was issued with a Financial Penalty Notice for the offence totalling £2,549.65.
In addition to serving the Financial Penalty Notices the council team ensured other deficiencies within the properties were remedied. The necessary mandatory HMO licences have now been granted with an additional condition requiring the owners to undertake recognised landlord training within six months.
All three landlords have now paid the financial penalties in full. Income received from civil penalties can be retained by the council to further its activity in relation to enforcement activities covering the private rented sector.
Where a landlord or property manager receives a civil penalty it can be taken into account when considering whether they are ‘fit and proper’ to be the licence holder for an HMO. In cases where a landlord or property manager receives two or more civil penalties over a 12-month period the council may include their details in the national database of rogue landlords and property agents.
Cllr Gerri Bird, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “We hope that this enforcement action will set an example to the small minority of landlords in Cambridge who provide unsafe or poor quality accommodation in the city and fail to get the mandatory licences.
“We will continue to protect the health and safety of tenants in the private rental sector, and help drive up standards, by taking enforcement action when landlords fail to comply with the law.”
The parameters in relation to when an HMO is required to be licensed with the council were extended within the Housing Act 2004 in 2018.
Landlords operating private rented HMOs in the city, occupied by five or more people forming two or more separate households, have had ample time since this change came into force to get properties under their control licensed.
The fact that landlords have had since 2018 to get their properties licensed is taken into consideration by the council when it becomes aware of unlicensed HMOs and is determining the most appropriate course of action, including issuing civil penalties.
If residents wish to discuss or report concerns relating to the safety, suitability and/or management of an HMO, including about rented properties that may be operating without an HMO licence, they can contact Cambridge City Council’s Residential Team on 01223 457000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org