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£15k bill for Great Yarmouth HMO landlord

A HMO landlord whose HMO was closed down by the local council has been left with a court bill of nearly £16,000.

Stanley John Rodgers, 73, was prosecuted by Great Yarmouth Borough Council's environmental services department.

The council inspected the property in South Market Road, Great Yarmouth, in January following a complaint from a tenant. Five people, including a pregnant woman, were living in the end of terrace property.

The house was found to be an unlicensed HMO which fell so far short of the expected standards that the council was left with no other option but to use its legal powers to close down the property to prevent its occupation and then prosecute Rodgers.

Rodgers pleaded guilty at Great Yarmouth Magistrates' Court last week to managing or controlling an unlicensed HMO. He also pleaded guilty to another five charges as follows:

  • Failing to comply with a duty to ensure that all means of escape from fire in the HMO were kept free from obstruction. The rear exit door was locked with no key available.
  • Failing to comply with a duty to ensure that any firefighting equipment and fire alarms were maintained in good working order. The fire alarm system had missing and damaged detector heads.
  • Failing to comply with a duty to ensure that the communal areas were fitted with adequate light fittings that were available for use at all times by every occupier. There were no bulbs in the light fittings in the living room, lights were not working in the dining room, there was no lighting on the stairs or the bathroom by bedroom three, there was a broken light switch in the kitchen and there was no emergency lighting provision.
  • Failing to comply with a duty to ensure that the common areas were maintained in a safe and working condition. The entrance door to the HMO had a faulty lock, leaving the property in an unsecure condition.
  • Failing to comply with a duty to ensure that the common areas were maintained in a safe and working condition. The electricity meter at the premises had been bypassed. The 60amp main electricity supply was wired into a 20amp-rated junction box, with poor wiring leaving the installation in a dangerous condition.

Rodgers was fined £13,333 and told to pay costs of £2,427.22 plus a £120 victim surcharge.

Cllr Carl Smith, the cabinet member for the environment, said: "HMOs are found in most areas – and licensable HMOs often represent the worst accommodation within the private rented sector in terms of their condition, their management and the vulnerability of their tenants.

"The borough council works proactively with the police and fire service to identify potential HMOs and, where possible, to regulate them under the licensing process, which sees officers work directly with landlords and HMO managers to improve standards.

"Running a HMO can be a lucrative business and the borough council expects landlords to take responsibility and invest time, care and money to ensure their tenants are as safe as possible.

"But where required, as this case shows, the borough council will use legal powers to tackle those who do not meet their obligations and thereby risk the health and safety of their tenants.

"In this case, the scale of the fine – the highest possible when a guilty plea has been entered – reflects the seriousness of the offence. The electrics, in particularly, were dangerous and had to be disconnected straightaway."

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