Luton housing agency Zenith Accommodation Ltd fined £66k for running unlicensed ‘squalid’ HMOs
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Last week at Luton Magistrates Court, Zenith Accommodation Ltd and its director Mohammad Mallick, 30, of Ivy Road, Luton, faced charges of managing Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) at 36 Dorel Close, 79 Cromwell and 3 Cromwell Road, which were not licensed and breaching safety regulations.
Despite denying the charges, both the company and Mr Mallick were found guilty on all offences.
The company was fined a total of £66,741 and Mallick was personally fined £14,661.
The court heard that the actions of the company were due to the “consent, connivance or neglect” on the part of Mr Mallick.
As well as operating without a licence the properties suffered from a host of defects including lack of fire doors, lack of fire detection, lack of emergency lighting, penetrating damp and insufficient electrical sockets.
District Judge hearing the case stated that Mallick had made denials in the face of overwhelming evidence. He said Mallick had shown “no remorse” and his actions had been “deliberate and cynical in order to maximise profit”.
Cllr Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for housing, said: “Being a landlord carries with it significant legal responsibilities and this successful action is yet another achievement of our Rogue Landlord Project. This case underlines the council’s ongoing commitment to ensure private tenants in our town have safe, high-quality accommodation.
“In situations like this, dishonest and immoral landlords are not only taking financial advantage of vulnerable tenants, but placing their lives in danger. We will not hesitate to prosecute landlords who show a disregard for the law and their responsibilities towards occupants”.
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 toilets and washing facilities for the number so people living there. Every landlord housing different families that share the same facilities under one roof must register for an HMO license.