A landlord in Liverpool has been fined £10,000 for fire safety failings and running a student house of multiple occupation (HMO) without a licence. As a landlord it is essential that all legislation is complied with as in the event of a claim, any landlord insurance policy, including HMO insurance may be null and void.
Michael Hiett, 41, pleaded guilty at Liverpool magistrates court to the offences. He had been renting out a three-storey six-bedroom house in Brookdale Road in Wavertree. When environmental health officers visited the property they found the front, back and bedroom doors were all fitted with unsuitable locks that could have stopped the occupants escaping quickly in the event of a fire. There had been no safety checks on the boilers or electrical equipment and the bannister on the second floor was so low that someone could have toppled over it and been seriously injured.
Mr. Hiett said he fell into being a landlord by chance and rented his former family home to a group of students. District Judge Wynn Jones said she found it difficult to believe that Hiett, of Wigan, didn’t know he needed a licence to run a HMO. She added that the house failed to meet minimum safety standards and the potential for harm was serious. Hiett was fined £6,000 for being in breach of licencing conditions and £500 for each of the eight safety breaches. He was also ordered to pay £825 costs.
Cllr. Ann O’Byrne, council cabinet member for housing, said: “This sentence sends a strong message to landlords who provide student accommodation that they have a great responsibility to ensure the property they rent out is safe and the council with take all the steps necessary to bring those who don’t to justice.”
Liverpool City Council is currently consulting on proposals to licence all landlords, not just ones letting HMOs, in a bid to crack down on sub-standard accommodation.
If you are ever in doubt, there are many points of reference on the web explaining the obligations to tenants, and you should always read the small print in your insurance documents or ask your insurance advisor if you are in any doubt. If you are thinking of owning, or already own a house of multiple occupancy, come to Comparecrazy.com to compare landlord insurance. The business insurance comparison site!