Landlord who crammed 8 tenants into 6 bed house fined £ 18,500
A rogue landlord was fined nearly Â£ 20,000 after a court found he had rented an unsanitary 6-bedroom house to 8 tenants, running an unlicensed multiple-occupancy (HMO) house, at the following an investigation by Lambeth Council.
Fernando Brown, known as ‘Fred’, was discovered to run the unlicensed House in Multiple Occupance (HMO) in Herne Hill, south London.
Lambeth Council’s Environmental Health Team investigation found Brown violated the 2004 Housing Act by not registering as an HMO, and he was duly fined $ 18,500 Â£.
Brown, who lives on Holmewood Road, South Norwood, then tried to appeal the fine, but a housing court upheld Lambeth’s findings and ordered him to pay the full amount.
Council was first made aware of the questionable blunder by a tenant, after bailiffs surrendered to demand house tax arrears from Brown’s son Andrew.
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Lambeth’s Environmental Health Team was contacted by one of Brown’s tenants and officers worked with Election Services to establish that six people were registered to vote at the address.
But two council officers visited the semi-detached house and learned that there were actually eight people living there.
The tenants confirmed that the landlord was “Fred Brown” who regularly collected the rent in person, and always in cash.
It later emerged that Brown routinely failed to provide rent receipts, did not have a written rental agreement with any of the occupants, and did not protect their deposits as required by law.
During the inspection, several flaws were noted by the council team, such as a lack of fire precautions, which led the council to issue an improvement notice to Brown.
Lambeth then performed a follow-up inspection in February and found that Brown had ignored the previous notice as eight tenants still lived there.
A notice of intention to issue a notice of civil sanction was sent to Mr Brown on March 2 last year with a proposed fine of Â£ 24,999 due to the seriousness of the offenses.
The board felt Mr Brown was motivated by financial gain by failing to pay Â£ 1,674 for a five-year HMO license and failing to comply with the authority for almost a year.
Mr Brown then appealed the initial fine of Â£ 24,999 to the Property Chamber of the First Level Court which heard the case in April.
The court upheld the original decision, but the financial penalty was reduced after mitigation by Mr. Brown’s legal team.
During court, Mr Brown testified and claimed he signed a rental agreement with three people in 2015 and believed they still lived there.
He claimed he was misled and demanded possession of the property when he discovered there were eight tenants, and none were on the 2015 agreement.
He also claimed that anyone else seen on site during his visits could have been “tenants, guests or squatters” and had not interviewed them.
Cllr Maria Kay, Lambeth Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, said: âUnscrupulous landlords who put profit above the safety and well-being of their tenants will not be tolerated in our borough.
âI am pleased that the court recognized the seriousness of Mr. Brown’s violation and agreed that his actions were serious enough to warrant a substantial penalty.
âIt is important to recognize the tireless work of the board teams to ensure this has been discovered.
“This case shows that Lambeth Council takes unlicensed HMOs very seriously and will prosecute offenders to ensure the safety and well-being of all of our residents.”