Landlord prosecuted for unlicensed HMO

Following an investigation by Highland Council Environmental Health Officers, a Fort William Landlord has been successfully prosecuted for operating a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) without a licence.

An HMO is a property in which three or more unrelated adults are residing as their main residence and require to share kitchen, toilet or personal washing facilities. Mr Harjinder Singh Randhawa, the owner of the 1st & 2nd floor flat at 39 High Street, Fort William pled guilty and was fined £1800 at Fort William Sheriff Court on Monday 28th January 2019.

Whilst conducting an investigation into an accident at work, Environmental Health officers had cause to visit the property at 39 High St, Fort William. At this time it was found to be occupied by 7 persons who were all residing in the property as their main residence and requiring to share kitchen and sanitary facilities. The property was found to be in a relatively poor standard of repair throughout and failed to meet the Councils adopted standards for HMO’s. Of particular concern was the lack of any fire safety precautions and the poor condition of the electrical installation within the property.

Councillor Ian Cockburn, Chair of the Licensing Committee said: ”Ultimately the HMO licensing scheme was introduced to protect tenants and help ensure properties are safe, and so it is important that the Council take’s action to protect  tenants in these cases. I am pleased that in imposing this level of fine the court has reflected the importance of licensing and demonstrates to responsible landlords who have made the effort to comply with the legislation and bring their properties up to the required standard, that less responsible landlords are actively being pursued by the Council. I would encourage both landlords and tenants to contact the Council if they have any concerns about their property. Officers are here to help and offer advice.” 

Graeme Corner, Senior Environmental Health Officer, added: “We hope that the significant fine imposed in this case sends out a strong message to landlords in the Lochaber Area and throughout the Highlands that they must obtain a license if their property is being occupied as an HMO.  Whilst our Service always prefer to work with landlords to ensure compliance, we will not hesitate to take robust action where the health, safety and well-being of tenants is comprised by poorly managed and maintained properties such as in this case. The Environmental Health Service will continue to take action against those landlords who do not apply, so I would urge all owners and agents to ensure that their properties are meeting legal requirements”

Should anyone have any concerns about a property that may be getting occupied as an HMO or poor standards within such accommodation, please  phone the Council’s Environmental Health Service on 01349 886606 or  visit the Highland Council website at: www.highland.gov.uk/environmentalhealth

29 Jan 2019
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