Unlicensed HMO landlord fined over £3,800

A photo of a fire damaged area with hazardous electrics is attached.

A Filton landlord has been fined over £3,800 for renting out an unsafe and unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO).

South Gloucestershire Council’s Private Sector Housing Team issued the landlord a Civil Penalty Notice after a number of HMO offences were identified at a two-storey terraced property in Filton housing five people.

The Private Sector Housing team were first alerted to the property in June 2023 when a tenant complained to the council about the landlord failing to complete repairs following an E-bike fire that occurred after Easter. It was also reported that the property was occupied by five people as a HMO although no HMO licence had been applied for.

The team carried out an inspection which confirmed that the property was being occupied as a HMO and also identified a number of potentially dangerous defects. Fire and smoke damage was evident in the kitchen area of the property where an E-bike had been left on charge, during which the battery overheated and exploded.

Avon Fire and Rescue Service attended swiftly to extinguish the fire and evacuate all occupants, resulting in no casualties.

An assessment using the Housing, Health & Safety Rating System under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004 confirmed that there were Category 1 hazards for Fire and Electrical hazards and a Category 2 hazard for lighting. A Civil Penalty Notice including a financial penalty of £3,883 was then progressed by the Private Sector Housing team for failure to licence the HMO in accordance with the Housing Act 2004.

Councillor Sean Rhodes, cabinet member with responsibility for environmental health at South Gloucestershire Council, said: “I’m pleased to see this penalty and fine issued to the landlord, who showed no regard for the safety of the people who rented this property.

“The licensing of HMOs enables the council to check conditions and take action where housing and management standards are not met. In addition, checks are made to ensure licence holders and people involved in the management of the properties are fit and proper to do so. Failing to licence a property as in this case, can put the health and safety of tenants at risk.

“Where we identify unlicensed HMOs our Private Sector Housing Team will look to prosecute or use Civil Penalties against the owners or managers. Our message to the landlords of HMOs is simple; licence your properties before we find them.”

Residents are advised to be aware of the fire risks associated with charging batteries for E-bikes and E-scooters. New guidance on E-bike and E-scooter safety was issued by the Government in February 2024 following a spate of fires. This guidance can be found here Battery safety for e-cycle users – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

South Gloucestershire has approximately 740 licensed HMOs which are well managed and provide good quality accommodation for professionals and students.

Any property that is occupied by five or more people in two or more households (including students or a group on one tenancy agreement) requires a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence. If you think a property you own or a property you live in should be licensed, please report it to the Private Sector Housing Team by emailing psechousing@southglos.gov.uk

Tenants of privately rented properties in the South Gloucestershire area can also report issues of disrepair that are not being addressed by their landlord by contacting the Private Sector Housing team by emailing psechousing@southglos.gov.uk or visiting their local One Stop Shop.

More information and advice on the licencing requirements and how to apply can be found by visiting www.southglos.gov.uk/hmo