Rogue letting agents hit with £250k in fines

Liverpool City Council’s Private Sector Housing team has successfully prosecuted four interlinked companies for illegally renting out properties without HMO (House of Multiple Occupation) licences.

The prosecutions follow an investigation during which it was discovered the properties were being let without the appropriate HMO licence. 

The fines were issued at a sentencing hearing at Liverpool Magistrates Court on 15 April, and relate to several properties across the Everton West (L3), Toxteth (L8) and Canning (L7) wards.

The companies and directors receiving fines are:

  • Trophy Homes Limited – £82.5k plus costs of £1,176 and a £2k victim surcharge
  • 231 Victoria Limited – £10k plus costs of £354 and a £2k victim surcharge
  • Citipoint Limited – £30k plus costs of £366 and a £2k victim surcharge
  • West Village Liverpool Limited – £20k, plus costs of £274 and a £2k victim surcharge
  • Sean Broadhurst – £33k, plus costs of £1,060 and a £2k victim surcharge
  • Robert Broadhurst – £33k, plus costs of £527 and a £2k victim surcharge
  • Maria Helena Broadhurst – £33k, plus costs of £436 and a £2k victim surcharge

The fines, costs and surcharges total £259,696.17.

Presiding District Judge Healey said the companies and directors had “put profit ahead of the safety and most basic needs of their tenants”. He said that the risk of harm was elevated because the tenants were students.

Their offences included a failure to have an HMO licence and to comply with notices requested by the Council under the Housing Act 2004 and the Local Government (miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

The directors were prosecuted under s251 of the Housing Act 2004.

All of the companies charged were registered at the same address, with either Sean Broadhurst, Robert Broadhurst, or Maria Helena Broadhurst, listed as the company’s officers.

Trophy Homes was managing the properties, while 231 Victoria Ltd, Citipoint Ltd, and West Village Liverpool Ltd were the freeholders.

It is the third time Trophy Homes has been prosecuted for failure to licence their properties.

Failure to let a property without the appropriate licence is a criminal offence, and as the officers for all companies were aware of the requirement to have a license, they are individually culpable.

HMO FACTFILE

  • Liverpool City Council requires all HMO properties with five or more people to be licensed. HMO licensing is vital to ensure licence holders keep their properties to a decent standard.
  • HMOs pose a higher risk to safety than other rental properties – a person living in an HMO is six times more likely to die in a fire compared to a single occupancy property. Due to the greater number of persons in the property, there is an increased chance of rapid wear to vital safety features like fire doors and smoke alarms. In bedsit HMOs, there will be multiple sets of cooking facilities in all bedrooms, which also increases the likelihood of a fire occurring
  • Students living in HMOs can be vulnerable residents, as they may be living independently, perhaps in a different city or country for the first time, and are unaware or worried about complaining to their landlord, or the Council.
  • Failure to let a property without the appropriate licence is a criminal offence, and as the officers for all companies were aware of their requirements, they are individually culpable.

Residents with concerns about their privately rented home can search the register of licensed properties  or report poor quality conditions or their landlord

Louise Harford, Interim Director of Housing, said, “The owners of these properties have blatantly ignored their legal obligations.

“We will always take action where there is clear evidence that landlords are putting their tenants at risk.

“This case shows that the fines can be substantial, and we hope they will act as a deterrent to others.

“As well as unlicensed HMO investigations, our Enforcement Officers carry out regular programmed and reactive compliance inspections to ensure licence holders comply with their duties and to ensure that the property and tenants are managed in line with the licence conditions. Officers will investigate and take appropriate in line with our enforcement policy.”  

Image: Liverpool Council

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