Local Councils Fight Back Against The “Housing Fraud Gang” And Other Unlicensed HMO Landlords

comply with HMO regulations, fines for operating unlicensed HMO properties, HMO Management Regulations of2006 and the Housing Act 2004, Housing Fraud Gang, operation unlicensed HMO properties

The past couple of months have been tough for many HMO landlords as more local councils clamp down on violations of both the HMO Management Regulations of 2006 and the Housing Act 2004.

I’ve been sharing some stories of HMO landlords who have experienced the stricter implementation of these laws and this week, I’ll be sharing the experience of 6 new landlords who have been slapped stiff fines for operating unlicensed HMO properties in Newham and Great Yarmouth, respectively.

The Newham Council prosecuted Luis Limongi, Ney Limongi, Christian Limongi, Leandra Velez and Alex Ibarra, and Lenner Guaman for 115 charges related to the operation of 5 unlicensed HMO properties in Newham.

Limongi’s group which is dubbed as “Housing Fraud Gang” by the Newham Recorder operated unlicensed subdivided properties with minimal fire safety and did not place tenant’s deposits under the mandatory deposit protection scheme.

They would operate these rental properties using false names and businesses which they could easily dissolve to avoid prosecution and liability from their tenants.

Their modus was discovered back in 2013 when Luis Limongi’s name appeared on a tenancy agreement involving a house not licensed to be a rental property. From then, the Newham Council discovered other tenancy agreements bearing either Luis Limongi’s name or his accomplices.

The Newham Council ordered the gang to pay fines totalling £43,740 as well as the council’s investigations costs amounting to £35,168.

When asked for a comment, Cllr Andrew Baikie, mayoral advisor for housing, said that the tenants were almost stripped out of their statutory rights under their tenancy agreements and they had no way of recovering their deposits after the end of the tenancy.

While they did everything in their power to evade responsibility from their actions, the council made sure that their tenants were put to justice.

The Great Yarmouth council also ordered Petros Mouzourou to pay an £8,000 fine after it was discovered that he was running a closed down hotel as an unlicensed HMO and failure to maintain it under statutory standards, according to ResidentialLandlord.co.uk.

Last year, council members and the police visited the hotel and found that 10 people were living in nine rooms out of the three storey hotel.

The council has previously inspected the old hotel in 2011, back then it only had 4 occupants. They advised Mouzourou to secure a license for the property if he accommodated more people, but Mouzourou failed to comply with this requirement.

Cabinet member for environment, Councilor Carl Smith reminded everyone to comply with the law, especially when the council has already given prior notice. If Mr. Mouzourou only complied with the council’s advice earlier he’d would only pay a fraction of the £8,000 fine, Smith added.

I’m sharing these stories so that more landlords comply with HMO regulations. While compliance may look like an encumbrance at first, earlier submission to the rules would actually help us dodge the tough punishment that comes with non-compliance.

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