A student landlord has been fined for failing to obtain the appropriate licences for two rental properties.
Lisa Chatfield was ordered to pay almost £6,000 after pleading guilty to several offences at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court.
The 38-year-old landlord obtained a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) licence for her rental property in Durham, which allowed her to let to up to five occupants at any one time.
However, a routine inspection in July 2014 found that the landlord had added two additional basement bedrooms in order to increase the capacity to seven tenants.
Chatfield was advised to seek a variation of her licence, but a subsequent investigation in July last year found that seven renters were still signed up to live at the property despite the licence never being changed.
At this point, the original HMO licence had also expired and was not renewed – another charge brought against the landlord.
Lisa Chatfield also pleaded guilty to failing to obtain an HMO licence for another property she owned in Durham.
The previous licence expired in April 2016 and an inspection the following November found that the property still required a licence.
The court heard that Chatfield’s tenants’ safety had not been put at risk and that the landlord has now employed a manager to deal with the day-to-day running of the properties.
The breakdown of the landlord’s costs included a £2,583 fine, costs of £3,057 and a victim surcharge of £86, totalling £5,726. Chatfield will pay all costs at a rate of £200 a month.
“We take our duty to regulate houses of multiple occupancy very seriously and this case should act as a warning to all landlords to ensure they obtain the correct licences,” says Gary Hutchinson, Durham County Council’s environment protection manager.
“Although we know most landlords take their responsibility seriously, having a licence acts as proof of the quality of accommodation being provided and ensures tenants can live in decent and safe homes.”