A £20,000 fine has been handed to a landlord and his managing agent for failing to secure a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence for their three-storey property.

After its community safety team received complaints about waste storage and nuisance behaviour, Barnet Council discovered 13 tenants living in the house, which is in Edgware.

An eight-month-old baby was found living with a couple in the loft, which has been converted. Access to it was via a steep, twisting staircase that didn’t have a handrail or lighting.

Seven lettings were in place at the property, which lacked the means to detect a fire or escape from one. The council’s environmental health team issued a prohibition order to stop the use of the second-floor room as living accommodation.

Property owner Saeed Afolabi and letting agent Alvin Forbes were fined £21,168.40 including costs after appearing at Willesden Magistrates’ Court on 6 November.

All properties that are occupied by five or more people in England are required to have an HMO licence, following changes to the rules. If landlords do not have an HMO licence they risk prosecution or incurring a penalty notice of up to £30,000 for each offence.

Gabriel Rozenberg, chairman of Barnet Council’s housing committee, said: “I’m passionate about defending the rights of our renters and increasing the standard of housing in our private sector. We’re keen to work with landlords, but if you don’t comply with the law, you can expect to be punished.”

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