Published: 12 April 2022
A landlord who operated an unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO) and its then director have lost their appeal against the imposition of financial penalties.
Gatwick and Crawley Rooms Limited Ltd and its director at the relevant time, Carolyne Hunt, were issued with notices imposing financial penalties of £10,000 each by Crawley Borough Council in December 2020 for an offence of managing/operating a HMO without a licence contrary to section 72 of the Housing Act 2004.
Councils are able to impose financial penalties as an alternative to prosecuting for certain criminal offences.
The decision to impose financial penalties was made following an investigation by the council into a potential HMO in a four-bedroom home in Three Bridges. The investigation found that:
- The property was occupied by five or more people forming two or more separate households and sharing basic amenities and was therefore a licensable house in multiple occupation (HMO)
- The HMO was unlicensed
- A number of fire protection measures were lacking
- A wall between the living room and dining room had been erected, creating a sixth lettable room
- On one visit all six bedsit rooms were occupied
- There was only one small kitchen and inadequate bathroom facilities for the potential number of occupants.
The company and Mrs Hunt appealed the council’s decision to the First-Tier Tribunal Property Chamber (Residential Property). On 6 January, the Tribunal decided to amend the penalties to £15,000 for Mrs Hunt and £5,000 for Gatwick and Crawley Rooms Limited Ltd.
An application for permission to appeal was refused on 14 February 2022.
The decision notice said that: “The Tribunal is entirely satisfied that [Crawley Borough Council’s] procedures were carried out properly and fairly and in the face of a blatant and continuous breach of the regulations considers that [Crawley Borough Council’s] decision to impose only the minimum financial penalty was generous.”
For more details about HMO licensing visit crawley.gov.uk/housing/private-housing