Council warning that licences are needed to operate HMO’s

A Reading landlord will have to pay a financial penalty of £22,861 after he failed to apply for a licence to operate a house of multiple occupation.

Local landlord Mohammad Safdar, of Home Farm Close, appealed against a penalty notice issued by the Council’s private sector housing team on 21st July 2022, after he committed an offence under the Housing Act 2004 of having an unlicensed HMO at his property in Hexham Road. The Council’s penalty notice was issued as an alternative to prosecution.

Mr Safdar appealed against the penalty notice, stating the property had been unlawfully and unknowingly sublet by his tenants. Reading Borough Council defended the appeal, including the level of financial penalty levied and disputed Mr Safdar had not let the rooms to all tenants.

Reading Borough Council’s case included calling the former tenants of the property, who all confirmed they had rented their rooms from Mr Safdar and paid him the rent directly. Mr Safdar had previously been issued a S249A Notice for a different address, which he also claimed was unlawfully sublet, but for which he had paid a penalty notice.

The appeal to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) (Residential Property) took place on 23rd February 2023 at the Holiday Inn, on Basingstoke Road. Mr Safdar was unsuccessful in his appeal, so must pay the total financial penalty of £22,861.

The Council is now reminding all landlords that properties in Reading occupied by more than one household where there are five or more occupants, require a licence from the Council. Typically, this includes shared houses and bedsits. Since 2018 the requirement also includes 1 and 2 storey properties operated as HMO’s.

Financial penalties of up to £30,000 can be issued by the Council, as an alternative to prosecution, where there is sufficient evidence, and it is in the public interest to do so.

Landlords can apply for a licence online and read guidance on the HMO page of the council website and unlicensed properties can also be reported online for investigation.

Last updated on 12/04/2023