Biggest landlord fines of 2018
Biggest fines in 2018
In the last few years, there’s been a big effort from the Government to clamp down on rogues in the property business. As such, the number and level of penalties that can be imposed on agents and landlords has increased.
A local authority can now fine a landlord up to £30,000 for an individual breach, enter their details on the national ‘rogues database’ and impose a banning order, preventing the landlord from managing a property or earning income from letting, potentially indefinitely. For more serious breaches of the law – which usually involve fire safety violations in Houses in Multiple Occupation - criminal prosecution is even possible, which usually results in much higher fines and could land offenders in prison.
We’ve highlighted below some of the heftiest fines landlords have been given and why they have fallen foul of the law.
July: HMO landlord, £405,000
This is believed to be one of the biggest ever financial penalties handed out to an individual landlord. Bijan Keshmiri from Lincoln was fined £405,000 for leaving 12 tenants living in what a magistrate called “appalling conditions” in two properties. He was convicted of 28 charges, including:
- broken smoke detectors
- a lack of fire separation and protection between flats
- poorly-made repairs that could increase the risk of fire spreading
- fire exit doors being sealed shut
- no emergency lighting in communal areas or stairwells
- standard lighting not working across staircases and landings.
May: HMO landlord, £371,250
Yunus Oomerjee, a landlord from Slough, was fined the huge sum of £371,250 after illegally extending a bungalow in Harrow to provide seven ‘shoddily-built’ self-contained units and a studio. He had ignored repeated warnings from the council and enforcement orders issued against the property over the lack of building regulation, fire safety and electrical checks.
He was ordered to pay £355,000 in confiscation proceedings to account for the money he made letting out the dwelling, plus £15,000 in costs and a £1,250 fine.
July: HMO landlord, over £325,000
For years Vispasp Sarkari had ignored orders to comply with planning regulations and he was finally prosecuted under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Brent and Harrow councils worked together to prove he had repeatedly bought run-down terraced and semi-detached houses, converted them into flats without planning permission. He was ordered by a judge at Harrow Crown Court to pay a fine of £7,515 for planning breaches, £303,000 based on rent collected from tenants since 2005, plus legal costs of more than £18,000.
The court also threatened jail for three and half years if the fine was not paid within six months.
September: HMO landlord, £177,000
Philip Brotherton of Reading, Berkshire, was fined £177,000 for serious breaches of fire safety regulations in his HMO. He had ignored many warnings from the council because he was putting tenant lives at risk. This included smoke alarms which weren’t working, not enough fire doors and poorly repaired external escape routes.
September: Managing agent, £53,620
London estate agent, Sterling De Vere, was fined £46,620 and ordered to pay costs of £7,000 for committing five offences under the Housing Act 2004. The property owner had an arrangement with SDV which gave them guaranteed rent. They then converted the three-bedroom house into a five-bedroom HMO.
On inspection the council found multiple breaches:-
- no licence
- too many occupiers for the facilities
- inadequate fire precautions
- a leaking and malfunctioning boiler
- the tenant’s requests to have repairs made had been ignored.
In addition, SDV has been ordered to pay a £167,000 fine and compensation of £740 because they had misled a tenant. The prospective tenant had been shown a super room and paid their deposit. They were then told it was taken and offered one which was of a poor standard. The room had mould, bad fittings and a broken window.
With the introduction of the new Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 this year, it’s vital to understand your legal responsibilities as a landlord and are aware of the penalties you could face. Working with Your Move can help to prevent letting a property illegally, so if you are concerned, email, phone or pop into your local Your Move branch and one of the team will be happy to help.