The local authority of Waltham Forest has successfully prosecuted an agent who was unlawfully subletting a property in breach of the HMO regulations.
The agent applied for a license for the property to be used as a single-family dwelling. However, the local authority carried out an inspection and discovered that the property was in fact occupied by 16 unrelated individuals.
During their investigations the local authority were provided with tenancy agreements which did not indicate that the property was in fact occupied by 16 individuals. The local authority also discovered serious defects with the fire alarm system in addition to the dangerous overcrowding.
The agent was in receipt of the rent from all those occupying the property and was thus fined by the local authority under the powers granted to them under the Housing and Planning Act 2016. The agent attempted to appeal the decision but then agreed to pay a £26,000 fine for breaches of licensing and housing management regulations.
We believe that the landlord was completely unaware of how the property was being managed. It can be difficult for landlords to know exactly who occupies their properties especially if they live far or abroad. However, this case is not a typical example of how properties are managed by agents but with that in mind landlords are always advised to ensure they keep a dialogue with their agents and whenever they can regularly inspect or ask another they trust to inspect their property.