A LETTING agent has been fined £11,500 after breaking the law.

Benjamin Jacob-Smith, of Pemberton Field, Essex, signed a ‘rent to rent’ contract with the owner of a house on Donnington Bridge Road, Oxford, on July 15, 2019.

Oxford Mail:

The contract saw the 34-year-old pay £3,100 rent each month to the owner of the property. He then issued individual tenancies to unrelated occupants.

On February 7, 2020, an Oxford City Council housing officer visited the house and found that it was occupied by four people and was an unlicensed HMO.

An HMO is a house with shared amenities (toilet, bathroom and/or kitchen) that is occupied by three or more people who are not from the same family.

The City Council has required that all HMOs in Oxford receive a licence since 2011.

The licence ensures that the house is safe for people to live and that the heating and electrics work, there is a toilet and shower and the landlord has not committed any serious crimes.

Jacob-Smith had also broken three fire safety rules at the property:

  • Not having a fire blanket in the kitchen
  • The kitchen fire door was faulty
  • The front door lock was not keyless operation on the inside, meaning tenants may have needed to search for a key to get out if there was a fire.

In the hearing at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (April 28), Jacob-Smith admitted four offences: one for failing to licence a HMO and a charge for each of the fire safety failings.

He was fined £11,500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,385.

Ian Wright, Head of Service for Regulatory Services and Community Safety at Oxford City Council, said: “Oxford City Council takes the safety of tenants extremely seriously. This case shows that we will take action against those who are putting lives at risk.”


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