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Rogue landlords warned of risks following Southport court case

Sefton Council is warning rogue landlords they will be prosecuted for failing to follow legislation on licensing a house or Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

It comes after a Southport landlord, Michelle Ball of Shellfield Road, was recently fined £5,000 for not licensing a HMO on Manchester Road, also in the resort.

Ball, 54, was originally fined £7,500 but this was reduced to £5,000 following her guilty plea and she was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £170 with costs of £1,466.42. She also pleaded guilty to failing to supply gas and electric certificates for the property.

It followed a court case at Sefton Magistrates brought about by Sefton Council’s Housing Standards Team.

A property must be licensed under the mandatory licensing scheme if it has:

• 5 or more occupants (who comprise two or more separate family units or ‘Households’)
• Shared amenities such as bathroom, kitchen, or toilet facilities or where all the units of accommodation are not fully self-contained (i.e. although a kitchen, bathroom or WC are provided for the tenant’s use elsewhere in the building, they are not actually situated within their unit of accommodation.)
Sefton also operate a selective licensing scheme in the Bootle area, which requires all privately rented properties to have a licence; and 2 Additional HMO Licensing schemes in Southport and Seaforth/Waterloo that require all types of HMO to have a licence.

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, said: “Licensing and HMO legislation is put in place to help protect tenants and also serves to ensure landlords comply with all rules and regulations.

“Everyone across the borough should feel confident when renting a property and it’s important that we send a clear message to the small number of landlords who compromise the safety of their tenants.

“Let this court case be a lesson to landlords who try to avoid getting a licence – hefty fines will be imposed by the courts and we will always act to protect our residents.”

For more information on HMO licensing and Selective Licensing, visit sefton.gov.uk