Wednesday, 27 May 2009

'Housing Prosecution'

Thanet district Council press release,

A Broadstairs landlord has been fined £1,000 for operating a house in multiple occupation (HMO) without a licence in what’s believed to be one of the first cases of its kind in Kent.

Since April 2006, HMOs that are three or more storeys and are occupied by five or more persons must be licensed under laws introduced by the government to improve the physical conditions and management standards of HMOs. Failure to licence such premises without reasonable excuse is an offence, punishable by a fine of up to £20,000.

The prosecution, by Thanet District Council, came after the council discovered in early 2008 that 45 West Cliff Road in Broadstairs was a licensable HMO. An HMO is a property occupied by more than one household. Examples include properties used as bedsits and shared houses.

Following the discovery, the owner and manager of the premises, Alan Chamberlain (58) of Pierremont Avenue was asked by the council to make an HMO licence application. By July 2008, the council had not heard from him, so demanded that a valid licence application be made within 21 days.

This deadline was not met, so officers from the council’s Housing Improvement Team visited the premises in August 2008 to check whether they were still operating as a licensable HMO. The inspection revealed that Mr. Chamberlain had ignored the council's advice and the operation was continuing.

In a case heard at Thanet Magistrates Court last week (Thursday 21 May), Mr. Chamberlain pleaded guilty to the offence and was fined £1000, to which a £15 victim surcharge was added. He was also ordered to pay a contribution of £100 towards the Council's prosecution costs.

Brendan Ryan, Director of Community Services, said: "HMOs are often linked to bad management and anti-social behaviour. This is why HMO licensing is so important, as it helps us to ensure that tenants are kept safe and neighbours are not unduly disturbed. The council's Housing Improvement Team has been helping landlords to get to grips with the legislation over the last three years, but now it is time to get tough. Those landlords willing to flout the law will be prosecuted. Not only do we have a duty to safeguard tenants and neighbourhoods, but we also have a duty to good landlords to make sure we deal with the rogues. Otherwise, it is not a fair playing field. Thanet has many good landlords and the Council actively works with many of them through its Landlord Focus Group and Landlord Events. So, Good landlords must be supported and encouraged, as the private rented sector is a key component of the housing market. If anyone has an HMO that they think might be licensable, they should contact the Council for advice as soon as possible."
Further information and application packs are available from the Housing Improvement Team, who can be contacted on 01843 577437


  1. Rachman/Rigsby characters like this are the scourge of Thanet.
    Properties of this sort are generally funded by the DSS. The residents are usually unmotivated drifters at best and the dregs of society at worst.

    What good's a £1,000 fine? That's a couple of weeks income.

    Residents with issues relating to noise and anti-social behaviour find it very hard to find any remedy. We have one such place near us. It couldn't be more obvious how two of the residents 'supplement' their hand-outs if they stuck a Colombian Flag on the roof.

    The house is in a Conservation area yet the council have done nothing to force the landlord to address the slum-like facade. They have now been asked 4 times to do so. If I were even to paint my front-door an unacceptable colour, they'd be down on me like a ton of bricks.

    On being told about the drug-dealing, the PCSO's made a note in their Disney Store jotters and...well you tell me.

    Two local Police Officers took down details, including the names of the dealers, the times their customers turn up, were offerred a room in my house for their surveillance (which would have been necessary to 'bust' the place)
    and...well you tell me.

    Does anyone know how to find out the owner's address in cases such as this? I feel a bit of name and shame where they live might be due.

  2. Tip of the iceberg, I assure you.


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