A rogue letting agent has been ordered to pay £42,596 in fines and costs of £10,626 after pleading guilty to a string of offences.
Lettings of London Ltd, based in North London, was taken to court by Welwyn Hatfield council in connection with two HMOs in Hatfield owned by the agency.
In 2018, council officers carried out an initial inspection of the properties and found a series of problems – in particular that the fire safety equipment in both houses had not been maintained in good working order.
The agency was charged with 18 offences relating to both properties, including there being no working fire alarms or fire blankets, the self-closers on fire doors not working, emergency lighting not working, and loose coping stones and rusted metal handrails on an external stair case outside one of the properties.
The agency argued in mitigation that the properties were in a good state of repair and regularly inspected, and that any issues were rectified in good time.
A representative of the firm also alleged that tenants had caused some of the issues, and produced testimonies from satisfied tenants.
However, Stevenage magistrates’ court ordered the agency to pay £42,596 in fines and full costs of £10,626 to Welwyn Hatfield council, plus a victim surcharge of £170.
A spokeswoman for the council says: “This is the second case this year with one of the largest fines we have seen for offences relating to HMO properties.
“These were serious breaches of the law and could have led to severe injury or worse. Everyone should feel confident when renting a property in Welwyn Hatfield and it’s important that we send a clear message to the small number of landlords who compromise the safety of their tenants – we will always act to protect our residents.”