Council Officers Discover Rogue Landlord’s Fire Safety Breach

A couple of rogue landlords were fined £5,000 after council officers discovered a ‘litany of fire safety and other defects’ in their rental property.

Aligul and Gulten Kala let their three storey property on Blossom Street, York, as a house in multiple occupation. However, an inspection by council officers revealed several fire safety issues, as well as six people crammed into just five bedrooms throughout the property.

The defects found were allegedly insufficient to justify entirely closing the building immediately, however they would need to be rectified before the property would be eligible for the correct HMO licensing, which it currently did not possess. The issues with the property included a lack of carbon monoxide detectors, trip hazards on fire escape routes and unchecked fire extinguishers. Both kitchen units and the electric meter were in a poor state of disrepair, whilst the stairs had loose hand rails.

Officer explained to the couple how to apply for a licence and also sent them a form to enable them to do so. However, the pair still failed to make the application.

Mr Kula applied for housing benefit for one of the property’s tenants, however he quoted a monthly rent to a housing and community officer that was over double what was actually charged. Housing officers attempted on numerous occasions to speak to tenants, but only managed toon one occasion. It was then that they were informed that six people lived in the house. Mr Kala then told the council that he collected £720 per month altogether, including £120 from a ground floor room and £150 each for the four upper floor rooms. However, the housing benefit claimed for one of the upstairs rooms claimed that the rent was £340.

Mr and Mrs Kala pleaded guilty to not having an HMO licence, and were each fined £1,200 along with a £120 statutory charge. The couple were ordered to pay a further £2,351 towards the council’s prosecution costs. Mr Kala disputed in court that tenants ‘had been there for longer than three months and that there had been six tenants’, with none now living there.

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