A rogue landlord has been ordered to pay a fine of £21,000 after renting out an unlicensed property in Oxford.
The latest in a string of convictions for unlicensed HMOs across the country, the case led to Asad Shazad, aged 37, of Cross Street, Oxford, facing sizeable fines. Six people were found to be residing in the two-story Moorbank house, following an inspection from a local environmental health officer in the July of last year. The property, located in Blackbird Leys, was also found to be in a poor state of disrepair and in need of better maintenance to reach the required standards.
Shazad pleaded guilty to the offence, and was thus fined £12,000 for operating an unlicensed HMO. He was also found guilty of four breaches of regulation, and was subsequently fined an additional £2,000 per breach. These included the failure to display his details in a prominent location within the property, which could be construed as avoiding maintenance responsibilities. Another breach was for failing to take the necessary fire safety precautions required. This latter offence had the potential to result in serious health and safety repercussions for the tenants residing in the property, a factor likely reflected in the allocation of the fine. Shazad was also told that he must pay the council’s costs for the prosecution, which amounted to £1,695.
Board member for planning and regulatory service, Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, expressed the hope that the punishment would serve to improve standards in the private rental sector. He said: ‘I’m delighted that the courts have imposed a substantial fine in this case to deter other landlords from renting out unlicensed and unsafe properties. HMO licensing allows us to establish whether or not the landlord of an HMO is a fit and proper person, or employs a manager who is.’