Thursday, 1 March 2012


A Ramsgate landlord has been fined for operating a house in multiple occupation (HMO) without a licence.

HMOs are properties occupied by more than one family, such as those used for bedsits or shared houses. Under laws introduced in April 2006, HMOs that are three or more storeys and are occupied by five or more persons must be licensed.

A visit to 49 Harbour Parade in Ramsgate by housing regeneration team officers of the council and the Kent Fire and Rescue Service in February 2011 revealed that a serious fire had engulfed the top floor. Fortunately, no-one died in the fire, but a tenant’s dog sadly perished. An investigation by the council revealed that the property had inadequate fire precautions and should have been licensed.

Margate Magistrates were told that Michael Abbott, 50, from St. Mildred’s Road in Minster, had failed to licence the property, despite having let it to tenants for several years. Mr. Abbott changed his plea to guilty on the morning of the trial and was fined £300 and ordered to pay a contribution of £150 towards the council's prosecution costs.

Cllr. Iris Johnston, Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: "Property licensing is very important as it helps us to ensure that tenants are kept safe and neighbourhoods are not blighted by problem properties. This prosecution confirmed that ignorance of licensing is not a defence; nevertheless, the council's Housing Regeneration Team will always try to help landlords through the licensing process and make it as easy as possible. This case should be a reminder to landlords that property licensing is mandatory, whether it is HMO or selective licensing."

She added: “Our officers do everything they can to find properties that should be licensed through operations like Cleansweep, but sadly they don’t have the resources to visit every single property in Thanet to check them all. Landlords should be the ones reporting that they have a house in multiple occupation. That doesn’t always happen and sometimes the team receive tip-offs from either tenants or members of the public, which they always welcome and follow up on.”

For further information and advice about HMO and selective licensing, please contact the Housing Regeneration Team on 01843 577437. This is also the number to call if you have any information about an HMO that you believe may not be licensed.

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