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Council prosecution sees landlord fined more than £14,000 for safety breach and operating without HMO licence

A landlord who has been operating without a HMO licence and failing to maintain safety standards for his tenants has been fined over £14,000 at a prosecution brought by Reading Borough Council.

At a hearing held last month at Reading Magistrates Court, Mohammad Basharat, 57, was prosecuted by the council in relation to a house in multiple occupation (HMO) he operates.

Mr Basharat pleaded guilty to a charge of operating a licensable HMO without a licence under section 72(1) of the Housing Act 2004. He had previously pleaded guilty to a charge under section 234 of the Housing Act 2004, arising from his failure to maintain the smoke detectors in the property as required by the HMO Management Regulations.

During visits from Reading Private Sector Housing Team between May and July 2019, the smoke detectors were found to be faulty, and the landlord was found to be operating without a licence despite the property being a licensable HMO.

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Fines were issued of £12,390 for operating a licensable HMO without a license and £1,675 for failing to maintain smoke detectors. Mr Basharat was also ordered to pay council costs of £3,000 and pay a victim surcharge of £170.

Ellie Emberson, Reading's Lead Member for Housing, said: “This is yet another example of our Housing team helping to protect the rights and safety of residents who rent with private landlords. The hard work of the team to uphold standards in the borough has led to another successful prosecution of a landlord who did not meet the required standard of accommodation we expect for tenants. It should be seen as a strong warning to landlords all over the Borough that they must comply with the rules or face the consequences.

“Our Reading Rent with Confidence scheme is also helping by awarding gold, silver and bronze standards based on the quality of accommodation and good management practices. By providing good landlords with a market advantage and potential tenants with confidence, along with prosecuting substandard landlords, we are showing our commitment to high-quality housing for all of Reading’s renters."

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