An Oxford landlord has been convicted for the second time in 12 months for operating an unlicensed House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and ordered to pay a total of £6,146 in fines and costs. The investigation followed a fire in the house which had a faulty fire detection system.

Mr Zahid Ali Rana, 58, of Boundary Brook Road, Oxford, was prosecuted after environmental health staff from Oxford City Council visited his home in March 2017. As three lodgers were living in the property with him, the house should have been licensed as an HMO. The central heating did not work and there was refuse in the garden.

When the case was heard before Oxford Magistrates’ Court on 16 October 2017 Mr Rana pleaded guilty to the offence of failing to licence the property and was fined £1,600. He was also fined £2,800 in total for three HMO management offences and ordered to pay surcharges and council costs of £1,746. Rana had previously been convicted on 4 October 2016 of managing an unlicensed HMO at Freelands Road that was also unsafe.

Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Board Member for Planning and Regulatory Services, said: “The City Council is committed to protecting private tenants from rogue landlords who fail to license their properties or manage them to acceptable standards. As this case involves a repeat offender, we expected a higher fine to reflect the seriousness of the offence and the appalling conditions we found the property in. This case is also one of the few remaining prosecutions in the system. Going forward, the Council will be regularly using financial penalties to deal with unlicensed HMOs and to secure compliance with HMO licence conditions where landlords have failed to improve their properties.”

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 allows councils to impose civil fines of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution for housing offences. The City Council will use these new powers to improve conditions in the poorest quality private rented housing in the city.

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