The City of Wolverhampton Council prosecuted Maciej Piotr Zaremba, previously of Third Avenue, Wolverhampton, for breaching Management Regulations for a house of multiple occupation (HMO).
In September 2021, officers from the council's Private Sector Housing team gained a warrant to enter a property on Third Avenue after receiving complaints of intensive occupation and ill treatment from the landlord.
They discovered a number of occupants residing inside the property who all had separate contracts, locks on their rooms and shared facilities, despite the premises not being a licensed HMO.
Upon inspection, officers determined that the building had significant fire risks, inadequate fire detection equipment and that means of escape in the event of a fire were inadequate.
Officers also discovered an extra fuse board, wiring and banks of electrical equipment in the loft of the property, which posed a significant risk of overheating and causing a fire.
In October 2021, a letter addressed to the defendant was delivered to the premises inviting him for a Police and Criminal Evidence Act interview under caution to which council received no response.
In February 2022, an additional warrant was secured to ascertain if housing regulations had been complied with. However, officers discovered that no improvements had been made to ensure the safety of the tenants within the property and that additional tenants had been taken on.
Dudley Magistrates court issued Zaremba with a £2,700 fine for the offence and he was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,838 and a victim surcharge of £270.
Councillor Bhupinder Gakhal, Cabinet Member for City Assets and Housing, said: “The council takes a strong stance on HMO licensing to ensure the safety of tenants and I hope this case will serve as a stark reminder to private sector landlords that they must comply with the HMO rules.”
Mandatory licensing of HMOs came into force in 2006 as a way of making sure that properties occupied by 5 or more tenants who share basic facilities are assessed by the council to ensure they are safe and suitably managed.
The council’s private sector housing team encourages anyone operating an unlicensed HMO with 5 or more residents to contact the council to discuss applying for a licence – email HMOenquiries@wolverhampton.gov.uk. Residents living in a HMO should also contact the council for reassurance that their property has a licence.