As many of our readers will be aware Oxford City Council has now launched it’s scheme to license every HMO within it’s jurisdiction. The primary rationale behind this was the need to deal with poor management of properties within Oxford.
In February, shortly after the new scheme was introduced, Oxford prosecuted Oxford Letting and Property Management Ltd for failing to manage a HMO property.
Oxford was alerted by a tenant of a property to a series of breaches of the HMO Management regulations, including:
- Failing to repair common parts;
- Failing to repair damaged windows;
- Failing to ensure that the means of escape from fire was kept in repair; and
- Failing to repair damaged kitchen units and worktops.
The agent pleaded guilty to offences under the HMO Management regulations and was fined £2000 with an additional award for costs of some £910.
Whilst the agent recognised the various breaches of the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 and pleaded guilty accordingly the matter will not end there. Oxford will now be considering whether the agent is suitable to mange licensable HMOs. While we do not condone the agent’s failure to manage the property appropriately this is a very severe response which could destroy the agent’s business and is a hard lesson to learn.
Agent’s must not forget that they are directly liable for HMO property under the HMO Management regulations. If a landlord refuses to make necessary repairs to a property the agent will not be able to hide behind their status as the landlord’s proxy in order to avoid prosecution.