Letting agent hit with bill of over £20,000 after HMO breaches

A landlord and letting agency have together been fined more than £26,000 after being found guilty of housing offences following a multi-agency operation carried out at two properties in Luton last year.

Adrian Simion, 30, and lettings agent Altavon Property Management, were found guilty at Luton Magistrates Court of a series of management regulations breaches relating to the safety and running of illegal houses of multiple occupancy.

Neither Simion nor the letting agency attended the hearing but were convicted in their absence, the council has reported.

Magistrates imposed fines totalling nearly £7,000 on Simion for two offences of failing to licence a HMO and nine separate management regulation breaches.

He was ordered to pay £500 costs and £110 victim surcharge.

Altavon Property Management was fined £10,000 for failure to license and then £2,500 for each of four management breaches, with £500 costs and £120 victim surcharge.

The people found at the address were subsequently supported by Luton Council which brought the prosecutions, together with the Romanian Embassy, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Citizens Advice Luton and various charities.

Cllr Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for housing at Luton Council, said: “We hope that this prosecution sends a very strong message that we will act on information we receive especially if we suspect that people are being exploited.

“Our rogue landlord project, in partnership with the police, fire and rescue service and other organisations, is taking action against these landlords who expect people to live in overcrowded and unsafe conditions.”

Supt David Cestaro, Bedfordshire Police lead for Modern Slavery, said: “While no offences under the Modern Slavery Act were identified from this particular operation, we have managed to safeguard people who were taken advantage of by being provided substandard living arrangements.

“We continue to ask members of the public, and professionals in public-facing roles, to trust their instincts and report anything which they believe could be a sign of someone being exploited, whether that be for labour, domestic servitude, sex or crime.”

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Written by: Houseladder