Landlords and agents found “exploiting” tenants will “pay heavily”, a housing reform counsellor has said.
Cllr Eleanor Southwood’s stark warning came after a London lettings agent was fined more than £32,000 for letting out a ‘fire hazard’ room behind a kitchen.
Viviane Almieda who ran My London Services Ltd, pleaded guilty of breaching several HMO licensing regulations, including failing to comply with Brent council’s amenity and space standards as well as obstructing the council’s investigation.
She knowingly kept the tenant in an illegal room, after having ignored several warnings from Brent Council enforcement officers that a room behind the kitchen was a fire risk and not safe to rent out.
The room in a converted three-bedroom had also been deemed illegally small, measuring less than the 6.5 square metres minimum legal requirement for a single bedroom.
Cllr Eleanor Southwood, cabinet member for housing and welfare reform, said: “Housing tenants in rooms that are too small and hazardous to fire risks is illegal. There’s no excuse for it.
“Landlords, agencies or sub-letters who exploit tenants will pay heavily in court. Every resident in Brent has the right to a decent standard of living.”
Almieda was handed a £30,000 fine plus ordered to pay £2,090 in court costs and a £170 victim surcharge.
It is finally announced that from the 1st of October, any property that is rented out, to five or more people who are not all related, regardless of the number of storeys, will require an obligatory HMO licence, and new minimum room sizes will apply.
Landlords with properties of this type, who don’t have an HMO licence should apply as soon as possible, as there will be no further grace period otherwise several fines will apply without exceptions.