15 Apr 24

Note this is the council press release verbatim so read it with caution.

Watford Borough Council has successfully prosecuted Mr xxxx, owner of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) located at Vicarage Road, for numerous breaches that posed significant risks to the health and safety of tenants and was ordered to pay a total of £26,535.41 for his offences.

The case arose from concerns raised by two tenants residing at Vicarage Road, who contacted the council’s Environmental Health department on 2 August 2023. They reported ongoing building works at the property, including the removal of bedroom walls, and the unsafe storage of tools and building materials in escape routes.

Upon investigation on 3 August 2023, council officers found multiple breaches that put the safety of the tenants at risk, particularly in the event of a fire. These breaches included compromised fire detection systems and escape routes, non-functioning fire doors, blocked escape routes, and missing smoke detectors and fire blankets.

In response, the Environmental Health Officer prohibited the use of two bedrooms on the top floor for sleeping until they were made safe. Additionally, Mr xxxx was required to undertake emergency works to install guarding on the first-floor landing and in the kitchen to ensure tenant safety in the event of a fire.

It was also discovered that Mr xxxx had added a third storey to the property without the appropriate licensing. This expansion resulted in nine tenants residing in a three-storey property, exceeding the occupancy permitted by the existing HMO licence.

Mr xxxx appeared before St Albans Magistrates Court on 10 April 2024, where he pleaded guilty to all 13 offences. He was sentenced to pay a fine of £12,000, with additional court surcharges and legal costs, bringing the total amount to £26,535.41. The court ordered Mr xxxx to make monthly payments of £500 towards the penalty.

Justine Hoy, Associate Director of Housing and Wellbeing at the council, said: “Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our residents is paramount. We will not tolerate any compromises to housing standards that put lives at risk.

“This successful prosecution sends a clear message that we will hold rogue landlords accountable for their obligations to provide safe and secure accommodation. They not only risk tents lives, but also the reputation of the vast majority of our responsible landlords who are providing high quality and essential homes.”

Link to original article

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