A property agent has been hit with heavy costs by Southwark Council for a string of fire safety breaches in his Bermondsey and Rotherhithe properties – while eight of his nine Houses in Multiple Occupation were ‘not properly licensed’.
Omar Patel was handed costs and fines of £18,117 for offences concerning seven properties on May 15 at Camberwell Green Magistrates Court.
Offences relating to another two of his properties landed Patel costs and fines of over £19,000 on July 29.
In total, Patel – who the council said has ‘previously been convicted of offences in Newham’ – was hit with a bill of over £37,000.
Cllr Victoria Mills, Cabinet Member for Finance, Performance and Brexit, said: “The council takes fire safety extremely seriously and our council homes are fire risk assessed and maintained to the highest standard.
“We hold all landlords and property managers in Southwark accountable to the same high degree.
“I hope that this result ensures that all landlords make sure that their properties are properly maintained and that all fire protection equipment is present and functioning.
“I would also encourage anyone who lives in an HMO, to let us know if they suspect that fire protection isn’t up to scratch.”
Council inspectors said that despite tenants paying as much as £950 a month, several of Patel’s properties lacked fire, heat or smoke detectors, secure fire doors or protected escape routes.
Patel – director of management companies Let Share Ltd and Live Work Study London Ltd – was also fined for failing to properly ensure his properties were licensed as Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) as required under law.
A council spokeswoman said that without a license, it can be difficult to tell if a property is fit for human habitation. Adding that the licenses mean that councils will inspect properties and given landlords and agents a deadline to complete work.
The licenses also limit the number of rooms and people a property can house, a limit which one of Patel’s properties breached, the council claimed.
Officials will now monitor the nine addresses to take further action if Patel fails to make them safe.