Greenwich Council have fined landlords £5,000 who failed to register family homes as Homes of Multiple Occupation and filled with large numbers of people, but are they giving poor landlords an easy ride?
According the the council today: “A £5,000 fine has been handed to five landlords” but it doesn’t state if £5,000 each or £1,000. Regardless, this is a low amount given councils can fine £30,000 per offence. Powers for councils were strengthened in 2018 and again at the start of this year covering various breaches.
If landlords refuse to pay the fine, councils can now takeover properties and collect rent thus ensuring many tenants are not homeless and the option also exists to levy the fine onto the property.
These five offences could have netted £150,000 alone. Are minimal fines being given to dodgy landlords making it worth avoiding paying fees for licensing?
Many ignore the rules
It’s now three years since the authority launched HMO licensing. After a year barely 10 per cent had registered. After two years it was 15 per cent. The council have partly blamed a backlog in staffing but we are now three years on. Levying higher fines would enable greater staffing numbers to investigate landlords converting family homes into overcrowded dwellings.
Prior to licensing a Home Office funded investigation found a huge range of problems at HMOs including overcrowding and dangerous living conditions. Over the Thames in Newham borough, licensing also revealed mass tax evasion.
In Greenwich a group set up to investigate “visited 2695 properties and responded to 1404 complaints regarding poor conditions. Over 2500 HHSRS hazards have been identified. 1098 Category one hazards requiring immediate rectification and 1501 category two hazards requiring remedial action”.
The numbers are vast with 2,600 hazards in 2,700 properties including 1,098 of the most serious Category 1.
Even now, weekly retrospective applications are being made for HMOs after being in operation for years. It appears no fines are being levied to the majority of landlords who are being offered the chance to apply only after being discovered.
With widespread poor quality housing and a need for income to enforce better standards and assist with the housing crises, why is the authority being so reticent? The five today is a drop in the ocean – and fines levied are very modest.
You can check registered HMOs in your area by clicking here.