A LANDLORD has been hit with a hefty fine after it was proved he operated an “unlicenced and unsafe house”.

Ervis Xhaferi, a landlord and owner of a house in multiple occupation (HMO), was hit with fines and court costs of £23,200 after pleading guilty at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on May 9.

Ervis admitted operating an unlicensed HMO in Great Leylands, and was fined £16,200 from the judge and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £2,000 and court costs of £5,500.

An HMO is a property which has three or more unrelated individuals that forms more than one household, but Ervis did not have the legal right to run one.

Epping Forest Guardian: Location - Chelmsford Magistrates' CourtLocation - Chelmsford Magistrates' Court

In December 2022, Harlow Council received a complaint from a member of the public about the property being converted into an HMO.

Council officers attempted to contact the individual, but he denied this had taken place.

After further complaints, the council’s HMO Enforcement team inspected the property and discovered a three-bedroom home which had been converted into a four-bed, housing six people.

The property was found to be unsafe, fell below required fire safety standards, and officers saw significant hazards such as no working fire alarms, no fire rated doors and a loft room occupied without building control approval.

All HMOs that have five occupants or more, who form more than one household, must have a mandatory licence and in all HMOs in Harlow require planning permission.

Nicky Purse, cabinet portfolio holder for sustainability and environment, said: “This is a fantastic result.

Epping Forest Guardian: Street - another section of Great LeylandsStreet - another section of Great Leylands (Image: Google Maps)

 “I want to thank all those members of the public who brought this matter to our attention as well as the officers involved in bringing the case to court.

“As we work towards achieving our missions of protecting our communities and transforming Harlow’s housing, we will continue to robustly monitor HMOs in the town to ensure that they are fully licensed and meet all the required safety standards.

“I hope that this result sends a clear message that we take the safety of Harlow’s residents seriously and that we won’t hesitate to use our legal powers to protect our community.”

Operating an HMO which requires a licence but does not have one is punishable with a civil penalty of up to £30,000 or an unlimited fine on conviction.