Break the law on your HMO and you could face prison

Justice statue on the roof of a building

Two law-breaking landlords have recently been fined, and one jailed, for failing to comply with property management law.

The first, Mustafa Kemal Mustafa, failed to comply with house in multiple occupation (HMO) regulations for a property in Brockley, South East London. The unlicensed HMO property was found during an inspection to be inhabited by no fewer than ten occupants, some of whom were sharing rooms despite being unrelated.

Mr Mustafa’s not-guilty plea, and insistence that the property was being used as temporary emergency accommodation, did not avail him of his responsibilities, and in February Bromley Magistrate’s Court fined him £7,500. He was also ordered to pay £925 in costs.

Mark Naughton, the second law-breaking landlord, did not even want officials to know that he was a landlord – his flat in Stepney was illegally sub-let.

Despite claiming housing and council tax benefit and jobseeker’s allowance for his main residence – also in Stepney, East London – Mr Naughton had been earning rent on another property which he was not declaring. From 2006 to 2012, he defrauded the DWP and his local authority of over £40,000.

When he discovered that he was being investigated last September, he attempted to force the occupants to leave. When they refused, he assaulted one of them and beat him unconscious.

On Monday, Mr Naughton was sentenced to two and a half years in jail for seven counts of benefit fraud (18 months) and one count of assault (12 months).

This follows the 2012 prosecution of Joseph Howman for failing to maintain an HMO property.

These cases serve to remind us that landlords should be aware of their responsibilities and ensure that they do not fall foul of the law, lest they incur severe penalties. If you would like to keep abreast of property management legislation, visit our Landlord Guide Centre.

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