13 April 2017

Record £45k fine for guilty landlord

A landlord of a shared house in Hove has been found to be ‘putting people’s lives at risk’ and ordered to pay £45,650 – the largest fine to date for a breach of housing regulations in the city.

At a trial on Thursday 6 April, Brighton Magistrates found Muharrem Kartal guilty of over-crowding, letting rooms he’d been informed were too small to be occupied, and failing to maintain shared kitchens and bathrooms in a safe and working condition.

He had pleaded guilty to three other charges in December, including failing to ensure that fire escapes were maintained and free from obstruction, and fire equipment and alarms were in good working order. The charges were bought following an inspection by council officers in July 2016, where they found at least 12 people living in the building licensed for a maximum of nine.

The breaches of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) licensing conditions and management regulations all refer to 28A Church Road in Hove – a four storey maisonette over a restaurant. Muharrem Kartal had previously been prosecuted for not licensing this property, as well as breaches of food hygiene legislation in another restaurant run by him.

Due to the previous convictions and evidence showing Muharrem Kartal received at least £43,680 annual rental income on the property, the magistrates fined him the equivalent amount, and ordered him to pay £1,800 costs to the council and a £170 victim surcharge.

Councillor Anne Meadows, chair of the city's Housing & New Homes Committee, said:

“This case highlights the importance of enforcing HMO licensing and regulations in the city. Residents in this property were not only living in over-crowded conditions without basic facilities, their lives were put in danger by an unscrupulous landlord taking their rent with little apparent concern for the safety of his tenants.

“That the case went to trial shows how serious theses offences were and I’d like to thank our officers for their diligent work in pressing the case and the evidence they presented in court that resulted in the convictions.

“We have licensed nearly 3,500 HMOs in the city and we inspect all properties as part of the process. HMO Licensing has ensured thousands of properties are properly managed and safer for residents.

“We will continue to take action against any properties not up to standard to protect our residents and I urge all owners and agents to ensure they meet legal requirements."

For more information about HMO licensing, visit www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/hmo-licensing