A Bristol landlord has been handed penalties totalling nearly £8,000 after being found guilty of operating an unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO) following an investigation by the city’s Private Housing team.
Mohammed Omar Ahmed, of Wells Road, Knowle, was given a £5,000 fine and more than £2,800 in additional costs at Bristol Magistrates Court last Friday (26 March), after failing to license a property he was responsible for in Fishponds Road between January 2018 and March 2019.
Mr Omar Ahmed told the council that he was moving into the property with the two remaining tenants as a resident landlord in November 2017, at which point he was reminded of the requirement to apply for a property licence under the authority’s Eastville and St George West Licensing scheme if that situation changed.
Fifteen months later, the Private Housing Team received a complaint from a tenant about dangerous and unpleasant living conditions in the property, while a site visit by officers from the Rogue Landlord Unit in February 2019 confirmed that the property was in an extremely poor condition and appeared to be midway through major building works, that included the removal of the boiler which had left the tenant without heating and hot water.
Neither Mr Omar Ahmed nor a member of his family were living there, meaning the property required a licence by law. Due to the condition of the property, council officers helped the existing tenant to find alternative accommodation and the house remains vacant.
The council will now pursue formal action to reclaim the Housing Benefit paid back for the period the property was unlicensed. To check if your property needs a licence or find out more on council’s proposals for further property licensing schemes, see the Bristol City Council website.
Tom Gilchrist, of Bristol City Council’s Private Housing and Accessible Homes team, said: “This case highlights why property licensing is a useful tool, requiring landlords to license private rented accommodation to help resolve issues of poor housing standards and property management.
“Most landlords provide quality rented accommodation and a good service to their tenants, but a significant number of HMOs are poorly managed and as the private rented sector continues to grow, it is vital that we continue to take steps to help vulnerable tenants and ensure that everyone in the city has access to decent housing.”