HMO licence fine case reopened
A landlord fined £38,000 for illegally renting rooms to students in Northampton has seen his case reopened after it emerged that he in fact pleaded not guilty, a plea left undiscovered by the court due to administrative error.
The landlord in question Jason Berrington, aged 29, was found guilty of letting rooms to 31 students over five different properties, despite failing to have a licence for multiple occupancy. He was acting in the role of Director of Student Housing Northampton Ltd at the time, and was repeatedly given the chance to file the correct paperwork for the licences yet failed to do so.
A HMO Licence (House of Multiple Occupancy) is required for any property which is over three storeys tall with five or more occupants. The licence costs £682.63 for up to five people, with a further £20 per extra room. Berrington was found to have six people in four of his unlicenced properties, and seven in a third. At his July hearing, Berrington repeatedly assured the council he would submit the paperwork, yet missed deadlines or sent incomplete forms. He was not required to be in court, and thus was not present at the hearing.
Berrington applied to have the case re-opened, a request that was granted on Monday, after it emerged that his ‘not guilty’ plea was only processed on the 8th of July, (the day of the case) and was then mistakenly sent to Northampton Crown Court. Mohammed Rahman, prosecuting for Northampton Borough Council, said: “It transpired Mr Berrington pleaded not guilty by post and hand-delivered the letter.”
The case will return to court in late August.
Source: Northampton Chronicle & Echo