Willesden Magistrates Court recently ordered a landlord to pay fines of £20,000, costs of £4,678 and a victim surcharge of £170.
A landlord in Wembley came to Brent Council Housing Enforcement Officers’ attention following a tip-off from council tax officers that the landlord was attempting to claim a single person’s discount for the property when in fact she was occupying it along with 7 other people.
When licensing officers raided the property last year the landlord advised them that she was a relative of the landlord and that the first floor of the property was owned by another person. Furthermore, it is understood that the landlord pretended that she was a lodger to the others occupying the property.
Licensing officers in Brent pursued the landlord for failing to licence a HMO and failing to comply with fire safety regulations. Willesden Magistrates Court fined the landlord £15,000 for failing to licence and £5,000 for failing to comply with fire safety regulations. The landlord was then also ordered to pay a further £4,678 in costs and a £170 victim surcharge.
This fine is less than the maximum civil penalty that could be levied. It is notable that despite magistrates having unlimited fining powers they are still not issuing fines at the same level as many local authorities seek to set penalties. This may indicate that local authorities are setting civil penalties excessively high but could also indicate that magistrates are not using their unlimited fining powers sufficiently.