£15k fine for unlicensed landlord

A Manchester landlord has been ordered by magistrates to pay more than £15,000 for refusing to comply with licensing regulations for housing of multiple occupation.

Charles Andrew Wenner, 62, of Oxney Road, Rusholme was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £1,823.75, along with a £120 victim of crime surcharge.

Wenner pleaded not guilty directly to the court but failed to attend the hearing and the case was heard in his absence at a Manchester Magistrates Court hearing last week.

The landlord successfully applied for a licence for a HMO property on Oxney Road, where he also lives, in 2007, but when the licence expired in 2012, he claimed the property was no longer licensable under HMO regulations as there were fewer than five occupants.

However, following an investigative visit to the property, licensing officers found eight people living at the property, and although Wenner agreed to submit an application, the paperwork remained incomplete, deemed ineffective and therefore an offence was committed.

Wenners spends much of his time abroad due to work commitments as a professional opera singer.

Licenses are mandatory for properties with five or more unrelated people who share a property comprising of three or more storeys. The legislation is in place to ensure minimum safety standards – including fire safety and gas safety – for shared houses.

The court heard that Wenner was not willing to engage with licensing officers and refused to comply with the requirements of the city council's HMO licensing scheme.

Cllr Bev Craig, assistant executive member for housing and regeneration, said: "HMO licensing is in place to ensure the safety of tenants and when landlords fail in their obligation to comply, they are putting the safety of their tenants at risk.

"We welcome the court's decision and the level of the fine is consummate with the seriousness of the offence. We urge other landlords to take heed – licence your HMO properties and keep your tenants safe."

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