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LANDLORDS of houses of multiple occupation [HMOs} and commercial dwellings with flats above shops faced a surprise earlier this month (Tuesday 3 October) during a council crackdown.

Officers from the Council’s housing, food safety and waste enforcement teams along with officers from Essex Police visited 80 homes suspected to be operating as unlicensed HMOs.

After the day of action, three licensable HMOs operating without a license, 18 non licensable HMOs, four landlords for planning and building enforcement prosecution and three empty homes were found and seven Environmental Protection Notices were served on local businesses.

Portfolio Holder for Housing, Cllr Rob Gledhill said: “Houses of Multiple Occupation Landlords are currently subject to mandatory licensing for three storey buildings occupied by five persons in two or more households.

“This currently limits the number of properties under this scheme but I am anticipating that the requirement is going to be extended by the government to include all properties with five or more people in two or more households meaning the 18 non licensable HMOs identified during the day of action will fall under this category next year.”

Letting a licensable HMO without a licence is a criminal offence and can result in an unlimited fine upon conviction. Persons managing or having control of a licensable HMO without a licence may also, in certain cases, have to repay rent. This applies to rent paid by tenants or by local authorities in housing benefit.

Cllr Gledhill added: “I would like to thank all those taking part in this operation to show we take this issue seriously. This was a coordinated effort to tackle poor performing landlords of HMOs and flats above shops where tenants are complaining to us about living in poorly maintained homes.

“`While we recognise that most private landlords comply with regulations and offer a good service to their tenants, it is important that we deal robustly with those in the sector who fall short of these standards.

“We are looking at extending licensing to include small HMOs in certain parts of the borough associated with anti-social behaviour and poor health and safety conditions to ensure that minimum standards are being met.”

If you have information about an unlicensed HMO, you can give us details by e-mailing private.housing@thurrock.gov.uk or visit: thurrock.gov.uk/houses-in-multiple-occupation for more information.

Source: Your Thurrock

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