A private landlord from Watford has been given a £18,000 fine for offences relating to overcrowding his property. Mohammed Rehman was taken to court after council officers found an illegal number of tenants crammed into the semi-detached home.
Watford Borough Council launched their investigation after receiving an anonymous report of overcrowding at the property seven months ago. Two council environmental health officers went to inspect the property and questioned the landlord about the number of tenants living in the house, as well as the large number of items that were obstructing the corridors. He was served a notice under the Housing Act requesting documents and confirming the urgent need to have all the fire alarms fixed.
Officers returned to the property and discovered various internal doors were defective in the house. They also spotted that rooms not permitted on the licence were being used as bedrooms as well as a lack of hot water in many rooms of the tenancy. Further reviews showed the fire alarm had not been working for at least ten months and that there were too many tenants living there. The landlord acknowledged that he knew how many people were legally allowed to occupy the property, but had no idea how many were actually resident. At Watford Magistrates’ Court Mr Rehman admitted six charges.
Following his conviction, Rehman was criticised by Derek Scudder the Watford politician in charge of environmental issues. He said “The risks of death or injury are higher in a HMO than a single family house. This is why the council licenses these properties and why it is so important landlords operate them safely. Mr Rehman ignored important requirements by overcrowding his property and not maintaining the fire alarm, putting the safety of all of his tenants at risk. The council recognised the seriousness of the issues and has shown that it will not stand for landlords who put the lives of their tenants at risk.”
It is not known whether the landlord held a valid landlord insurance policy but it is vital for landlords to understand that overcrowding of a property and not adhering to health and safety regulations could quite easily render any property insurance they