The owner of four properties in Luton has been fined almost £19,000 after tenants were found to be living in unlicensed homes.
Tamas Katona of Aldermans Hill, London, pleaded guilty to being in control of four unlicensed Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and to breaches of the Management Regulations in relation to fire safety. He received a total fine of £18,823.09.
Following joint action with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and Luton Borough Council, 99 Pomfret Avenue, 65 Spencer Road, 33 Kilmarnock Road and 68 Reginald Street, Luton, were found to be unlicensed houses.
The purpose of HMO licensing is to ensure that the properties meet certain standards in relation to disrepair, fire safety and that there are enough toilet and washing facilities - none of the properties had adequate protection against fire.
Cllr Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for housing at Luton Borough Council said: “This case underlines the Council’s ongoing commitment to ensuring private tenants in our town have safe, high-quality accommodation. In situations like this, unscrupulous landlords are not only taking financial advantage of vulnerable tenants, but placing their lives in danger. Every landlord housing different families that share the same facilities under one roof must register for an HMO licence.
“We would encourage anyone who suspects a property may be an unlicensed HMO to contact us immediately.
“The good news for tenants taken advantage of in situations like these is that they are entitled to claim up to 12 months rent back from the landlord.”
There is a full list of registered HMOs on the Council’s website www.luton.gov.uk/hmo. Residents can email HMO.Hotline@luton.gov.uk or call 01582 547222.
Concerns over “beds in sheds” – where typically vulnerable immigrants are crammed into sheds and charged exorbitant prices – can be raised by emailing PSecHousing@luton.gov.uk.
or calling 01582 548890