ALYAS HUSSAIN was handed the ‘largest fine’ that the council in Luton has given for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). reported on the case against Mr Hussain, which came after an HMO he owned was found to be ‘overcrowded’, while tenants’ lives had been ‘put at risk’ through a lack of fire doors, automatic fire detection and heat detection, in addition to ‘obstructions to stairs and exits in the event of fire’. The property also had unfinished electrical works throughout, with bare wires ‘hanging from ceilings and out of walls’, with bathrooms also said to be in a ‘terrible state of repair’.

Other issues discovered included damaged ceilings and an electrical meter that had been tampered with, while the gas meter ‘had to be shut down due to a leak’. At Luton magistrate’s court, Mr Hussain was fined £70,000 and ordered to pay additional costs of £1,148 plus a surcharge of £170. The site noted that this was the ‘largest fine the town has ever seen for breaches’ of HMO law.

Sentencing, the chair of the court said: ‘It is clear to us that these offences are motivated by profit without any recourse to regulations or court processes. The defendant has two properties not subject to mortgage and received rent from the HMO in excess of £19,000.’

Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for housing, added: ‘We will not tolerate landlords who rent properties which fail to meet standards. The council has a commitment to ensure that private landlords in Luton do not take financial advantage of vulnerable tenants and put their lives at risk. We will not hesitate to prosecute landlords who show a disregard for the law and their responsibilities towards occupants.

‘At the start of 2018 this conviction sends out a really strong message to landlords: in every sense of the expression “Get your house in order” or we will be on to you.’