Man fined £15,000 for House of Multiple Occupation offences at pub buildings

The Red Cow Hotel, Wide Bargate, Boston.
The Red Cow Hotel, Wide Bargate, Boston.

The man in charge of two Boston pubs has been fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,014.82 after he admitted 30 offences relating to two HMOs (House of Multiple Occupation) - including electricity being disconnected when people were living in the property.

Ikram Mohammed Qutab, of Red Cow Hotel, Wide Bargate, Boston, appeared before Boston Magistrates on Monday, November 7, after an inspection of the Red Cow Hotel, on Wide Bargate, and the Great Northern, on Station Street, in Boston.

He pleaded guilty to an offence of managing or being responsible for an HMO which was not licensed and 15 offences under the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006.

These offences related to a multi-agency inspection of the Red Cow Hotel on February 23.

The fire service was called in by the police because of concerns about the state of the fire alarm and detection system.

Boston Borough Council officers, Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue and Lincolnshire Police inspected the premises leased by Qutab.

Electricity at the Red Cow had been disconnected.

A fire escape was damaged with open treads and balustrades, fire doors were not fitted, electric sockets were damaged, internal fittings were in disrepair, a smoke detector was covered, there were trailing cables on the fire escape route and a common kitchen was dirty. There was damp and mould.

Fire and Rescue said there had been a failure to take general fire precautions.

The serious disrepair and poor standard accommodation could have led to serious harm, or even death, for the occupants, magistrates heard.

He received a fine of £6,000 for an offence relating to an unsafe external fire escape.

There was no separate penalty for the remaining charges.

He also faced 14 charges under the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 in relation to an inspection of the Great Northern.

He was fined £9,000.

In addition he was ordered to pay legal costs of £1,014.82 and a victim surcharge of £120.

At the Great Northern, on February 23, inspectors found the fire detection system was not working properly, there were loose and insecure electrical cables, doors were damaged, windows were in disrepair, kitchen fittings were dirty and mouldy, kitchen flooring was dirty and damaged and appliances and electric sockets were poorly installed. The bathroom was also dirty and the flooring damaged.

In both cases inspectors gathered evidence from tenants proving the two properties were being used as HMOs.

Magistrates said that they took the matter seriously and wanted to send out a clear message to landlords or people who manage HMOs.

After the hearing Boston Borough Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for housing, property and community Coun Michael Cooper said: “These issues are extremely serious, reflected in the punishment from the court.

“This sounds a clear message to those prepared to ignore or take a chance with the rules around HMOs, which are required by law to be licensed and must be maintained as satisfactory living accommodation.

“It is not acceptable for doors and windows to be broken or for common and shared kitchens and bathrooms to be dirty. It is criminal when fire detection systems do not work, fire doors are not installed and electrical appliances and sockets are in poor condition or not properly installed so that people are put at risk.

“The Government has recognised how important the council’s work is to do all it can to ensure HMOs meet all legal requirements, having made extra funding available for the council’s groundbreaking Rogue Landlords Project. We will continue to be diligent and determined.”