Letting Agent fined after adding more bedrooms to flats

Posted: 21/06/2012

A letting agent who posed as a landlord was fined for creating extra bedrooms to fit more tenants into two flats in Camden. She rented these extra bedrooms whilst unlicensed as a HMO (Homes for Multiple Occupation) and also breached health and safety laws.

The flat were divided to create more bedrooms without the consideration of fire safety. There was no extra fire exits created and no fire alarm system installed. The flats were originally designed for one family to live in and if a fire starts in a family home, a member of the family usually knows who else is in the building which gives them a better chance of escaping. However, because the flats were divided up for six separate tenants, each tenant comes and goes independently, therefore it’s even more important to comply with health and safety regulations and apply for proper licensing to protect the tenants.

The letting agent, Mrs Alba Lopez, acted on behalf of a father and son who owned the two flats and clarified that she had signed agreements to let the flats and then constructed the partitions. The adaptations were unauthorised and meant that there was only one fire exit for six tenants via the shared kitchen. The doors to each bedroom were thin and did not comply with any fire safety regulations and the kitchen had no door what so ever to prevent a fire spreading into the rest of the flat, trapping the tenants inside.

Mrs Alba Lopez pleased guilty to the offences and was prosecuted by the Highbury Corner Magistrates Court in the London Borough of Camden. She was fined £2,000, paid £1,000 for the council’s costs and a £15 victim support payment.

Further cases of this type of unauthorised accommodation have been found where flats have been divided up to become an unauthorised HMO. The reason why landlords and letting agents are carrying out illegal adaptations to their flats is because It is unlikely that they would be granted an HMO license or planning application for the changes they want to make.

If you were a tenant, would you risk living in a flat like the one described above?

Amanda McGovern, Pali Ltd

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(0) Comments letting agent, landlord, london, council, flat, tenant

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