A housing letting and management company has been ordered to pay a fine following appeal for breaching management regulations after an investigation by the Council’s Rogue Landlords team.
Mecca Properties M/CR, based on Dickenson Road, Manchester, was issued a civil penalty notice in August 2020 after a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) managed by the company was found to be in breach of HMO regulations.
The company appealed the fine through the First-Tier Residential Property Tribunal, which upheld the Council's decision to impose the penalty agreeing that the agent was guilty of ‘systematic failings’ and the breaches were significant enough to warrant the Civil Penalty Notice, ordering the company to pay £21,499.
The Management of HMO Regulations (2006) are in place to ensure basic property and management standards – including fire safety – for the benefit of tenants in the private rented sector.
On inspection, the Council’s Rogue Landlord team - part of the Housing Compliance Team -found fundamental fire safety breaches, including obstructions to escape ways in the event of a fire – including doors that could not be unlocked without a key in order to escape in the event of emergency - and the property did not have any smoke alarms (on the first inspection). The management company also failed to provide a gas safety certificate when requested, and deficiencies were found in the electrical installation.
Parts of the property were found to be in a poor state of repair, including the hallway floors and missing tiling in the bathroom. The property was also found to be dirty and a window in the kitchen was broken and covered with a ‘to let’ sign.
Council officers attempted to engage the management company on a number of occasions to address the issues at the property and support them to mitigate the serious fire safety breaches – such as fitting temporary fire alarms – but to no avail.
The investigation of the property on Dickenson Road was part of a focused day of action targeted private rented sector properties on the road, which led to the Council issuing two emergency prohibitions (which means the property could not be rented out with immediate effect), two notices for emergency repair works, two improvement notices and four £300 demand notices
This day of action investigation work had also led to a separate pending prosecution for breaching a formal notice served to mitigate Health and safety risks in a residential property.
In the last year, the Council has issued 39 improvement notices, 10 hazard awareness notices, and has issued 28 civil penalties totaling £288,674.
There are currently 2,247 licensed HMOs in Manchester that are inspected during the duration of the licence to ensure residents in the private rented sector are safe and have a decent home to live in.
Cllr Rabnawaz Akbar, Manchester City Council’s executive member for Neighbourhoods, said: “The private rented sector is one of the fastest growing in the city and our residents need decent properties that they can trust, with landlords that take their responsibilities to their tenants seriously.
“We know that the vast majority of landlords and managing agents are very good, but for those that are not, I hope that this sort of action serves as a real warning. This management agent showed systematic failings and is now thousands of pounds out of pocket. The level of fine shows that we are looking for you and we will use the full extent of the law to bring you to account.
“If you or someone you know is concerned with the way your property is being managed, please get in touch. We can help.”