A Potters Bar landlord is facing a fine of nearly £7,000 after he failed to obtain the correct licence for his rental property.
Andrew Harvey avoided paying the £500 licence fee, leaving him with a bill of over ten times this when Hertsmere Borough Council bought legal action against him.
Harvey appeared at St Alban’s Magistrates Court on Wednesday 22 November due to his failure to obtain a House in Multiple Occupation Licence for the rental property he let, located on Oakfield Close. The property had been operating without a licence from March 2012 to June 2017. The court was told that Harvey, 50, from Stevenage, avoided all contact from the borough council, failing to respond to emails and other correspondence on multiple occasions. Harvey defended himself by claiming that he had not received the emails from the council.
When sentencing the Potters Bar landlord, magistrates said they believed Harvey should have been aware anyway that his property was meant to be licenced. It was therefore his duty to ensure that the correct licensing for the property had been obtained.
It is a criminal offence for anyone to control or manage a house with three or more storeys which is occupied by five or more people in more than one household without a licence.
An inspection by the council’s private sector housing officer in June revealed five veterinary students living in the home.
Harvey was fined £5,542 and was also ordered to pay £1,319.29 in costs, as well a £125 victim surcharge.
A House in Multiple Occupation licence costs just £542 for five years, proving that in aiming to avoid the licence fee Harvey was in fact subjecting hiself to a far higher fare.
Portfolio holder for housing, Councillor Jean Heywood, said: ‘Everybody has a right to live in decent accommodation, and the council takes its responsibilities to enforce basic living standards very seriously. As a landlord, you are responsible for the welfare of your tenants and there are strict rules in place to ensure certain conditions and duties are met. This is for the protection of all. The vast majority of landlords are happy to work with us to ensure they are managing their properties and looking after their tenants according to the letter of law. However, we will not hesitate to take other landlords who deliberately fail in their duties to court, where they could receive unlimited fines.’