£53,000 HMO fine under POCA for basic landlord failings

County Court

A Norwich Landlord, Joseph Howman, has been ordered to pay a fine amounting to £53,500 for failing to maintain his HMO (House of Multiple Occupation) property on Unthank Road in Norwich.

Mr Howman’s property was let as 10 bedsits with communal bathrooms. Norwich City Council inspectors found the property to be in a state of disrepair. There was no heating in the bedrooms, the main communal bathroom had no hot water, and all communal bathrooms were filthy. Worryingly, the fire doors were in poor condition and there were electrical hazards such as broken lighting and hanging wires.

Ellen Spencer, private sector housing officer with Norwich City Council said:

Norwich City Council is committed to making sure private tenants live in safe houses which meet legal standards. In this case the landlord risked the safety of tenants by cutting corners and refusing to make improvements.

We are pleased that the court recognised the serious nature of the offences and hope that this will send out a message that rogue landlords will not be tolerated in Norwich.

Howman is the first landlord in England to be prosecuted under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), and was fined £40,000 under the act. In addition to the POCA fine, Howman was also fined £5,000 plus a £135 victim surcharge and £8,500 costs bringing the total bill to £53,500.

This news comes out in the same month as Landlord Assist, the nationwide tenant eviction and rent collection firm, urges landlords to carry out regular testing of electrical equipment.

Statistics from the Electrical Safety Council show that there are nearly 8,000 accidental fires in the UK, many of which could have been prevented if fire safety equipment had been installed and maintained.

Stephen Parry, Commercial Director of Landlord Assist said:

I feel it is imperative that landlords take some basic steps in order to try and ensure the safety of their tenants

There is no legal requirement for landlords to provide annual electrical safety certificates, but there is a duty of care. Of course, HMO Landlords have additional legal obligations that they must follow in order to stay on the right side of the law and provide their tenants with high quality accommodation.

If Mr Howman had ensured his HMO property was in a safe state of repair he would not be £53,500 out of pocket.

For further information on the requirements of HMO Landlords, visit our HMO page.

This information should not be interpreted as financial advice. Mortgage and loan rates are subject to change.