Playing with fire: Landlord forced to pay £9k after burning shed uncovers unlicensed HMO

An HMO landlord has seen more than £9,000 go up in smoke last month after a fire in his shed uncovered a hotbed of unlicensed activity at his Wealdstone home.

When flames engulfed the garden shed at the property owned by Joseph William Moran, the London Fire Brigade acted swiftly to douse the conflagration. Nobody was hurt – but the landlord’s day was about to get even worse – as the LFB tipped off Harrow council to their safety concerns.

The council’s housing enforcement team investigated the property where they found more than four unrelated individuals living at the property, sharing just one bathroom and kitchen - making it a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) and subject to Harrow’s Licensing scheme.   

Cllr Varsha Parmar, portfolio holder for environment said:

“We’re stepping up the heat on unlicensed HMOs and making bad landlords sweat.

“I’m just thankful it was only a shed that caught fire – uncertified gas and electric in a house can make the whole place go up in minutes – especially if the property is crowded. That’s the outcome we all dread in Harrow and we’re pleased that the courts consistently punish landlords who don’t keep their tenants safe.”

The council’s housing enforcement team requested a completed HMO licence application and proof of gas and electricity certification on a number of occasions. Moran failed to provide these and was taken to court.

At Willesden Magistrates Court he was fined £3,500 for not licencing his property as a HMO; £2,000 for failing to provide a gas safety certificate; and £2,000 for failing to provide an electrical safety certificate. With costs and victim surcharge, he was ordered to pay £9,192 in total.