Durham Student Landlord Fined for Licence Failure

A Durham student landlord is facing fines for the failure to obtain the appropriate licencing for two rental properties.

Lisa Chatfield, 38, has been forced to pay £6,000 after pleading guilty to various offences in front of Newton Aycliffe Magistrates Court. The rogue landlord obtained a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) licence for her rental property in Durham, which permitted her to let to up to five occupants at any one time. However, following a routine inspection in July 2014 it was revealed that she had added to extra bedrooms in the basement in order to increase the capacity of the property to seven tenants.

Chatfield was informed that she needed to seek a variation of her licence. However, further investigation in July last year revealed that seven tenants were still occupying the property, despite the landlord’s failure to change the licence. Furthermore, by this point the original licence had expired and was not renewed, bringing an extra charge upon the landlord.

A second property owned by Chatfield in Durham was also found to be without a licence. The previous certificate had expired in April 2016, and an inspection the following November found that the buy to let home still required a licence.

Despite her administrative failures, the court heard that Chatfield’s tenants’ safety had not been put at risk. As a result of the case, the landlord has now employed a manager in order to assist with the day to day running of the properties.

The costs incurred by the landlord included a £2,583 fine, costs of £3,057 as well as a victim surcharge of £86, totalling £5,726. All costs will be paid at a rate of £200 a month.

Durham County Council’s environment protection manager, Gary Hutchinson, said: ‘We take our duty to regulate houses of multiple occupancy very seriously and this case should act as a warning to all landlords to ensure they obtain the correct licences. Although we know most landlords take their responsibility seriously, having a licence acts as proof of the quality of accommodation being provided and ensures tenants can live in decent and safe homes.’

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