A professional landlord agency has been hit with a fine of £25,000 plus costs of £3,000 after Waltham Forest Council discovered multiple serious offences at an unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO) in February 2019.
Cameron Adams Ltd., who trade as Century 21 Cameron Adams at 30 Church Lane, Leytonstone, E11 1HG, pleaded guilty to seven charges at Thames Magistrates Court on Friday 24 January 2020 including failing to hold a mandatory HMO licence and offences relating to the proper management of a multiply occupied rental property. The company manage over 100 properties in the borough.
The conviction follows an inspection by council housing officers on 10 February 2019 where they found potentially life-endangering issues including a complete absence of working smoke detectors, serious drainage problems, inadequate heating, and dangerously haphazard entrance steps. Six people were living in the unlicensed property when the visit took place.
Cllr Louise Mitchell, Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness Prevention, said: “I’m glad that Cameron Adams Ltd., admitted their guilt and did not even try to defend the atrocious condition of this property. We have seen some really awful sights at sub-standard rented accommodation, but the photos from this inspection are some the worst I have seen.
“It’s simply unacceptable for a landlord – let alone a supposedly professional agency – to allow their properties to be rented in this state. These tenants were living in conditions that could well have posed a serious risk to their lives.”
A spokesperson for Century 21 UK said: "Century 21 UK has been made aware that the Cameron Adams franchisee has been fined in relation to serious property management offences. As the UK franchisor of the global Century 21 brand, the business takes a zero tolerance approach to franchisees that fail to comply with the law or fail to uphold the high standards of service that customers expect from Century 21.
Century 21 UK has therefore terminated the Franchise Agreement for Cameron Adams with immediate effect."
The news comes in the same week that Waltham Forest’s application to run a large-scale selective licensing scheme in 18 out of 20 wards in the borough was approved by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). It requires most landlords in the borough to register for a licence in order to rent a property and meet certain standards to keep their tenants safe and secure. The selective licensing scheme, which will come into force on 1 May 2020, will be one of three property licensing schemes that will operate in Waltham Forest, alongside additional and mandatory licensing schemes that regulate the standard and management of HMO accommodation.
Cllr Mitchell said: “I’m proud to lead the way in Waltham Forest calling for more protection for tenants from the minority of unscrupulous landlords who do not care for the safety or wellbeing of their tenants. The approval of our licensing scheme application means we have another tool at our disposal to take action against these rogue landlords who give the whole sector a bad name.
“We have shown we are serious about tenants’ rights many times. We have secured convictions against landlords who falsified vital gas safety certificates and who allowed gambling dens to operate from their properties, and we have even helped tenants have their rent repaid after their landlord changed their locks and took their possessions”
Mr Hasan Younis, a co-director of Cameron Adams Ltd., also recently agreed to pay a fine £16,000 after allowing serious anti-social behaviour in a rented home in Leyton for which he was the named Licence Holder.
Waltham Forest Council is reviewing the property licences at all addresses where Cameron Adams Ltd., is named as the Licence Holder or Manager.