Edinburgh landlord found guilty of licence evasion

An Edinburgh landlord has been successfully prosecuted for operating a house in multiple occupation (HMO) without a licence.

Yousef Mohammed was found guilty on 19 December 2011 for running an unlicensed HMO in September 2009 in the Grange area of Edinburgh and was fined £1,000.

He blamed the failure to licence the property with an agent that had subsequently ceased trading but he was found guilty of deliberately attempting to evade the HMO licensing scheme.

Mr Mohammed had separately been found not "fit and proper" to hold an HMO licence by the Council in a hearing on 10 September 2010.

Councillor Rob Munn, Convenor of the City of Edinburgh Council's Regulatory Committee, said: "This landlord has demonstrated a blatant disregard for the HMO licensing scheme which this Council finds unacceptable. The conviction sends a clear message to landlords who fail to adhere to the law by operating without a licence. This will not be tolerated and the decision will be welcomed by all tenants and law abiding landlords.

"Tenants have the right to a decent standard of living in a safe and secure home and landlords should make sure they provide this. This prosecution shows that we will take action against those landlords who do not comply."

This sees the last offence reported by the Council under The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 now brought to a successful conclusion. On 31 August 2011 the Scottish Government commended the HMO provisions of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006.

The 2006 act introduces a number of new enforcement powers for local authorities and increases the maximum fine level for running an unlicensed HMO to £50,000.

Information for landlords and tenants:

Complaints received by the Council range from the unfair loss of deposits, failure to carry out repairs and the poor condition of a property, right through to abusive behaviour and illegal evictions.

These are legal requirements for landlords of private rented residences to register and, in addition, to obtain a licence for any which are let in multiple occupation with 3 or more unrelated tenants. Local authorities can take action under registration and licensing legislation to strike them off the register and refuse or revoke a house in multiple occupation licence. 

Tenants can protect themselves by checking if their landlord is registered on the Scottish Government's National Landlord Registration website. Unregistered and unlicensed lets can be reported to the Local Authority.
Tenants who feel unfairly treated by a landlord failing to deal with their requests to have repairs carried out can report these to the independent Private Rented Housing Panel.

For advice on landlord problems please report them to the Council-run Private Rented Services on 0131 529 7454.

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