A property firm has lost its appeal against the Council after it challenged a fine for renting a HMO without the correct license.
First Tier Tribunal upheld the £8000 fine against property management firm Sentry Guardians, after ruling that the property was licensable and that a breach had been committed.
Sentry Guardians were found operating an unlicensed House in Multiple Occupancy property on Edgware Road in 2021.
Large HMOs – properties let out to at least five people from different households, or with shared bathroom or kitchen facilities must be licensed in England and Wales. In Westminster the rules were extended in 2021 to apply to all shared flats and houses with two or more occupants.
Westminster Council’s Private Sector Housing Team discovered several people living in the property in May 2021 which was investigated following a complaint.
The occupiers claimed to be ‘guardians’ protecting the building from damage and squatting. The fine was issued in October of that year.
Sentry Guardians Ltd appealed the decision, denying that it had control over the property and that it was being used as a HMO.
Matt Noble, Councillor for Church Street ward and Cabinet Member for Climate Action, Regeneration and Renters, said: “The decision to uphold the fine acts as a clear message: failure to licence properties under the HMO licensing schemes will not be tolerated.
“1800 landlords successfully licensed their properties in the past year so there is absolutely no excuse for other landlords not to come forward.”
The property has since been licensed.
Sentry Guardians did not respond to a request for comment.
Image: Wikimedia Commons/SunDawn.