Our Housing Standards team have issued fines to landlords who have been operating unlicensed Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) in Torbay.

Since October 2018 landlords are required to have a licence for HMO’s if they contain five or more people in two or more households which contain shared, or lack, facilities, such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.

Fines have so far amounted to over £15,000 with a number of other cases that are currently being investigated likely to result in further financial penalties. These cases include:

  • a previously registered Bed & Breakfast in Paignton that was housing nine tenants. This property  was also found to have fire safety defects;
  • a house in Torquay with seven tenants that were affected by structural defects to the property, fire safety and unsafe living conditions;
  • an ex-care home which housed a number of tenants where, following a number of visits to the property, the landlord failed to inform the investigating officers of the true number of tenants at the property.

Councillor Swithin Long, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration, Tourism and Housing, said: “Keeping our residents who live in rented accommodation safe from rogue landlords is a top priority for us and these fines should serve as a reminder to all landlords that they must keep themselves up-to-date with legislation and comply with current licensing legislation.

“I would also like to issue a call out to any of our residents who feel that they are living in a rented property that is not adequate to let us know. By providing us with information we can then investigate and ensure the landlords are carrying out work to improve your living conditions.”

New regulations were published on the 1 October 2018 that expanded the mandatory HMO licensing scheme across England. The licensing scheme was previously restricted to properties that comprised three or more storeys. 

As part of the Housing and Planning Act 2016 the government introduced a range of new measures available for local authorities to deal with rogue landlords including civil penalties, rent repayments orders, banning orders and the introduction of a database for rogue landlords and letting agents.

Information about HMO’s and how to report a potential unlicensed and unsafe HMO can be found on the HMO page.

If you are a landlord or letting agent and are unsure of your legal responsibilities or wishing to refresh your knowledge in light of recent legislative changes then please contact the Housing Standards team to take advantage of free training, accreditation and membership with the South West Landlords Association. This package, delivered by landlords for landlords will provide technical knowledge and ongoing support.

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