A landlord in Wales has been fined thousands of pounds over licensing and health and safety failures.
Kaneeza Abid, of Alexandra Road in Newport, South Wales, was prosecuted as a result of failing to licence a property and not managing it safely, meaning that it would have been difficult for tenants to escape if a fire were to occur.
Ms. Abid used a letter to plead guilty to the offence of not licensing her house in multiple occupation (HMO). This failing relating to the property in Alma Street contravened the Housing Act and she was fined a total of £10,000 for the offence.
In addition, Ms. Abid also admitted a total of ten other offences. These resulted from her failure to comply with rules set out in the 2006 Management Regulations. For these contraventions, she was fined £1,000 for each offence.
As a result of the prosecution brought about by Newport City Council, Ms. Abid was also ordered to pay £1,229 to cover the local authority’s costs, along with a victim surcharge totalling £120.
Newport City Council has the responsibility of licensing HMOs, which are houses occupied by three or more residents who are not related. The authority, and others like it, is also responsible for ensuring that HMOs are managed safely and properly in order to protect tenants. Tenants must be provided with appropriate and correct facilities and be housed in properly maintained properties that are deemed safe to inhabit.
The Newport prosecution resulted from an inspection by environmental health officers at the Alma Street property on January 22, 2015. The officers discovered that the HMO was without the necessary licence and deemed that the fire escapes at the house were not properly lit or free from obstructions, as required. This meant that tenants were considered to have been put at risk of either severe injury or even death if a blaze had occurred at the property.
Newport City Council cabinet member Bob Poole, who has the remit of looking after regulatory functions, said that HMOs were regulated and licensed ‘for a reason’, and that reason is to keep people safe. He said that all tenants have the right to live in properties that are safe and landlords must take responsibility for ensuring that this is the case.
A new law comes into force this autumn which means that landlords and letting agents in Wales have to register with Rent Smart Wales and hold a management and letting license. This allows tenants to check if their landlords are registered and whether they are renting from a person or agency licensed to let and manage properties.
In order to be licensed, agents and landlords must undergo ‘suitable training’. Training is already being offered by local authorities in Wales through a scheme known as Landlord Accreditation Wales.
The city council in Newport is a Landlord Accreditation Wales (Law) partner. The scheme aims to make agents and landlords aware of their responsibilities and rights when it comes to the lettings process.