Rogue property agents have been fined over £100,000 for letting an “unlicensed and unsafe” home in King’s Cross, Camden Council has said.
Simple Properties London Ltd, Simple Properties Management Ltd and the businesses’ corresponding directors Santiago Hidalgo Ferrin, 39, and Miguel Cabeo Cespedes, 48, were handed £106,000 in fines and costs at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court last Friday (6 February).
The prosecution follows Camden Council officers carrying out several visits to the Acton Street property in May 2019 after it was identified as an unlicensed House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) with “numerous safety issues”.
Officers found that the flat’s kitchen diner had been improperly partitioned to make the two bed flat a four bedroom property that was home to five residents, damaged wiring to a washing machine was left exposed in the property’s bathroom and both the fire alarms and fire escapes from the property were found to be “inadequate”.
The court found Simple Properties Management Ltd guilty of operating an unlicensed HMO and breaching safety regulations resulting in a £40,000 fine and a £30,000 fine for Cespedes.
Simple Properties London Ltd and its’ director, Ferrin, both pleaded guilty to operating the unlicensed HMO in Acton Street and were each fined £18,000.
HMOs include flat shares, student homes, bedsits and some buildings that have been converted into flats. Homes that contain occupiers that form two or more households are classed as HMOs and require a licence in Camden.
Councillor Meric Apak, cabinet member for better homes, said: “Around a third of Camden residents rent from private landlords and they deserve to live in properly regulated and safe homes.
“Most landlords are decent law abiding people however for too long a minority have been able to let housing that may be unfit for human habitation, is overcrowded and in which fire and general safety are both woefully disregarded.
He added: “Our HMO licensing scheme is improving the standards in Camden’s private housing, empowering renters to take action and helping good landlords to run successful businesses.”