A local landlord has been fined £7,500 by St Helens Borough Council’s Housing Standards Team for letting an unlicensed HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) in Peasley Cross, St Helens Borough.
Having ignored numerous requests and failing to renew the licence, the landlord was issued with a penalty charge fee of £7,500 by the council. Landlords who repeatedly ignore notices from the council could face fines of up to £30,000.
St Helens Borough Council has a HMO licensing scheme which requires landlords who let their properties to five or more tenants from different households to hold a licence. The aim of the scheme is to protect renters and to hold landlords accountable for the standard of their properties.
In addition to a fine, landlords who fail to licence their properties can be issued with a Rent Repayment Order which requires them to return up to 12 months’ worth of rent to tenants. The council will support any tenant who wishes to refer themselves to a tenancy advocacy organisation to help them to apply.
Councillor Jeanie Bell, Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities said:
“This case shows that we will take action against landlords who flout the rules. Anyone letting a house as a HMO that should have a licence must be aware that we will enforce action against them if they persistently dodge their responsibilities.
“Too often renters feel powerless and that is why licences matter. They set basic expectations and give renters much stronger rights. We are determined to raise standards in private rented homes and licensing enforcement is key to making it happen.”
Housing officers were supported by Merseyside Police during the course of enforcement action.
St Helens Targeted Policing Inspector Rob Budden said: “Although it is the responsibility of the local authority to deal with licensing issues around HMO’s we will continue to work with them and support them in taking any necessary enforcement action against landlords for the benefit of the whole community.”
Information relating to HMOs and private rented sector standards can be found on the council’s website at https://www.sthelens.gov.uk/article/1696/Homes-and-property
If you suspect a HMO is unlicensed or does not comply with St Helens licensing conditions, please contact the council at www.sthelens.gov.uk/contactus.