HMO management company handed £30k fine

A housing management company has been fined £30,000 after an inspection by Liverpool City Council found an escape route at a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) was padlocked shut and blocked by a shipping container.

Newsham Park Estates Ltd has pleaded guilty to four breaches of the Management of House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) Regulations 2006 due to serious issues with tenant safety.

The Council’s Private Sector Housing Service visited the property on Belmont Drive in Kensington in January 2023 after a tenant who lived in one of the rooms at the HMO made a complaint to the Council.

It was discovered that there was no safe secondary means of escape from the property as the back gate was padlocked shut, and it was obstructed by a large shipping container.

In addition, nine fire doors were found to be in disrepair and holes and gaps were also found in the floor and walls of several rooms, compromising compartmentation and fire safety.

At a sentencing hearing at Liverpool Magistrates Court on Thursday, 21 March, the firm was fined £4,500 relating to the padlocked gate, £4,500 relating to the shipping container, £10,800 for the defective fire doors, and £8,100 because of the holes/gaps in the property.

With costs and a victim surcharge included, this totalled £32,694.00 payable by the company.

The property has since been reinspected and the issues that were identified have been remedied.

Louise Harford, Interim Director of Housing, said, “This case demonstrates clearly that we will investigate and take action when there is clear evidence that landlords are not meeting their legal responsibilities.

“The action we have taken means tenants in this property are now living in much safer conditions, and the fine that has been issued sends out a really strong message to landlords who are not complying.

“We would encourage tenants who have concerns about disrepair and poor conditions to contact us, so that we can look into the issues and see if an offence is being committed.”

Issues with private sector rented properties in Liverpool can be reported at https://liverpool.gov.uk/housing/report-housing-standards-and-conditions/

Image: The position of the shipping container and the padlocked gate. Credit: Liverpool Council

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