landlord fined £10,000 for running unlicensed HMO in Liverpool

A landlord in Liverpool has been fined £10,000 for fire safety failings and running a student house in multiple occupation (HMO) without a licence.

Michael Hiett, 41, pleaded guilty at Liverpool magistrates court to the offences. He had been renting out a three-storey six-bedroom house in Brookdale Road in Wavertree.

When environmental health officers visited the property they found the front, back and bedroom doors were all fitted with unsuitable locks that could have stopped the occupants escaping quickly in the event of a fire.

There had been no safety checks on the boilers or electrical equipment and the bannister on the second floor was so low that someone could have toppled over it and been seriously injured.

Hiett said he fell into being a landlord by chance and rented his former family home to a group of students. District Judge Wynn Jones said she found it difficult to believe that Hiett, of Wigan, didn’t know he needed a licence to run a HMO. He added that the house failed to meet minimum safety standards and the potential for harm was serious.

Hiett was fined £6,000 for being in breach of licensing conditions and £500 for each of the eight safety breaches. He was also ordered to pay £825 costs.

Cllr Ann O’Byrne, council cabinet member for housing, said: “ This sentence sends a strong message to landlords who provide student accommodation that they have a great responsibility to ensure the property they rent out is safe and the council with take all the steps necessary to bring those who don’t to justice.”

Liverpool City Council is currently consulting on proposals to licence all landlords, not just ones letting HMOs, in a bid to crack down on sub-standard accommodation.