Hefty fines dished out to HMO landlords over lack of licenses as Portsmouth City Council issue warning

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Warnings have been sent to landlords that they could face large fines if properties are not properly licenced.

Owners of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) have to acquire an appropriate licence after two landlords were punished for not doing so. From September 1, 2023, HMO owners must apply for “additional licencing”.

Properties with five or more people who form two or more households and share facilities like a kitchen or bathroom require governmental permission. Landlords also need to comply with mandatory HMS management regulations in order to maintain safe and healthy living standards for tenants.

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10 Rampart Gardens, Hilsea, where an asset management company was fined £15,000 after it was found that five individuals were living in the property without a HMO licence. Picture: Google Street View.10 Rampart Gardens, Hilsea, where an asset management company was fined £15,000 after it was found that five individuals were living in the property without a HMO licence. Picture: Google Street View.
10 Rampart Gardens, Hilsea, where an asset management company was fined £15,000 after it was found that five individuals were living in the property without a HMO licence. Picture: Google Street View.

Portsmouth City Council has powers to serve fines of up to £30,000. Private sector enforcement officers recently fined an asset management company – J & K Asset Management Limited – £15,000 as five people were living in a property without a HMO licence – at 10 Rampart Gardens, Hilsea.

A resident informed the local authority, which carried out a further investigation. A tribunal upheld the fiscal punishment, concluding that they were satisfied the case fell under section 71(1) of the Housing Act 2004.

As outlined in a publicly available report on the government website, the tribunal found there was no evidence that supported claims that tenants were living as a single household. Portsmouth City Council said another landlord with a large property portfolio was fined £24,000 for not having a HMO licence.

The landlord claimed four people were living at the address, but an unannounced inspection determined that six people occupied the property and were paying rent. Inspectors also found the property had no working smoke detector.

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Portsmouth City Council's Ian Holder.Portsmouth City Council's Ian Holder.
Portsmouth City Council's Ian Holder.

PCC and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (HIWFRS) instructed him to resolve the safety issue. The landlord admitted the property had six tenants, and was fined accordingly.

Councillor Ian Holder, cabinet member for safety in the community said: "It's so important that people live in safe and well-maintained properties, and HMO licensing allows us to make sure this is happening across the city. Our private sector enforcement officers work hard to maintain standards of HMOs in Portsmouth and failure to comply with licensing will result in a hefty fine."

Applications for additional licensing open on September 1, with a deadline of December 1. Further information can be found on the PCC website.