Three managing agents have been fined after a property was used for multiple occupation with 11 people living in a three-bedroom house.
Rockpole Ltd, Woodlands Ltd and Station Estates were all found guilty of failing to license a House in Multiple Occupation that was severely over-crowded and unlicensed.
Barking and Dagenham Council originally sent someone to the road to visit another property for a compliance inspection in February 2017. It was during this visit that the property managed by the defendants came to the officer’s attention.
Looking from outside the property, the officer noticed a bed in the front room and five bins that were filled with rubbish. After knocking at the door, they were greeted by a woman who was unable to communicate with them.
Council enforcement officers later returned to visit the property and discovered five rooms with six double beds and two single beds. There was only one bathroom and one bedroom had severe mould due to lack of ventilation and the number of occupants living there.
After researching the property, officers found the landlord spent the majority of the time travelling away on business and had recruited a managing agent – Rockpole – in October 2016 to rent out the property for £1200.
The landlord was unaware that Rockpole had signed an agreement with Woodlands to sub-let the property and then did a further sub-let with Station Estates to increase the number of tenants living in the property.
The managing agents increased the rent to £2,000 which was paid in cash by the tenants and were making a profit of £165 per month, the council says on its website.
It said that the landlord had no knowledge there were another two managing agents involved and they were all taking a share of money from the property.
A legal case was put together by Barking and Dagenham Council and all the managing agents were summoned to appear at Romford County Court on October 22 where they pleaded not guilty.
The case was referred to Romford Magistrates Court where snow postponed the first trial date in February.
All three have now been convicted of failing to license an HMO under section 72 of the Housing Act 2004.
Rockpole were fined £2,500 while Woodlands and Station Estates were both ordered to pay £2,000.
Cllr Margaret Mullane, cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, said: “We will not tolerate any estate agents who are trying to find a loophole through subletting a property without informing the landlord.
“The actions of such agents place an extra burden on law-abiding citizens, and we will take enforcement action against such practices in order to protect residents.
“The conviction of these three managing agents sends out a strong warning that we will take the strongest possible action and bring them to justice.
“It should also act as a warning to all landlords that they need to make sure all relevant research has been carried out before committing to an estate agent.”
EYE note: This report has been taken from the council’s own website. Agents with similar names are not implicated and are nothing to do with the case.