An Oxford landlord was ordered to pay a total of £10,500 after being found guilty of operating an unlicensed and poorly managed house in multiple occupation (HMO) when he appeared before Oxford Magistrates’ Court on 26 February.
Fifty-five year-old Mr Khadam Hussain, of Cowley Road, Oxford, was found to be the owner of an unlicensed HMO off the Cowley Road which was also in a state of disrepair, in breach of HMO management regulations.
Mr Hussain initially pleaded not guilty to the charges at an earlier hearing, but later changed his plea to guilty at the hearing on 26 February 2016. He was fined £4,000 for breaching housing legislation by failing to license the HMO, and a further £4,000 for failing to maintain the property to standards required under HMO management regulations. In addition, Mr Hussain was also ordered to perform 250 hours of community service and pay the City Council’s costs of £2,500.
Concerns about conditions in the property were reported to the council in March 2015. Officers from the council’s HMO Enforcement Team inspected the house and found approximately 10 people living in the five-bed semi-detached property, including a young mother and her seven-week old baby.
The officers found the bathroom to be extremely damp and mouldy and the wooden bath panel was rotten. The kitchen was greasy with disrepair to the cooker and units. The back door was insecure and could not be locked, and the garden was full of rubbish.
Councillor Bob Price, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “The City Council has established clear policies for the quality of accommodation in HMOs and we will come down hard on landlords who charge high rents for sub-standard properties. It is unacceptable for landlords to collect the rent while allowing their properties to deteriorate and fall into disrepair. The dreadful conditions which our inspectors found at this property damage tenants’ health and standard of living, and cannot be tolerated in this city. The HMO Enforcement Team make regular visits to properties which are suspected to be below standard and continue to identify landlords who do not meet their legal responsibilities.”
Mr Hussain’s case brings to four the number of landlords prosecuted this year for HMO offences, resulting in up to £46,500 in fines.