Melcombe Regis landlord ordered to repay Housing Benefit for operating a licensable house in multiple occupation without a licence

A Weymouth landlord has been ordered to repay £8,811.45 of rental income for letting a multiply occupied property without a licence from the council.

On 12 September 2016, the landlord Mr Antone Spiroc-tica (62), of Hanover Road, Weymouth was successfully prosecuted by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council of an offence of operating a licensable House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) without a licence under the Housing Act 2004 and for four offences of breaching the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006. Some of the offences related to matters of fire safety as well as general disrepair. 

Following this action, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council made an application for a rent repayment order to the First –Tier Tribunal, Property Chamber for repayment of all housing benefit paid to Mr Spiroc-tica during the time when the property was operating as a licensable HMO without a licence. The sum of Housing benefit subject to the order was £8,811.45.

On 14 September 2017, the tribunal ordered Mr Spiroc-tica to repay the Council all housing benefit paid to the sum of £8,811.45.

Cllr Gill Taylor, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council’s Briefholder for Housing, said: 

“The council are committed to working with landlords in the private rented sector to provide good quality, well managed accommodation in the borough. This is good for both tenants and landlords. However, we will not hesitate to take action whenever landlords provide sub-standard, over-crowded accommodation or fail to fulfil statutory obligations. 

“Landlords should be aware that the council can apply for rent paid from the public purse through housing benefit etc, to be recovered from landlords that have provided unsafe accommodation. On this occasion the Tribunal agreed that the full amount of rent paid while the property was illegally let should be returned to the council.

“While many landlords are complying with the current legislation, to help facilitate this the council operates a landlords’ group to assist them and keep them up to date so landlords can fully understand their obligations. This also has the benefit of helping to develop their business. Any landlord interested in benefiting from joining the Landlords’ Local Authority Partnership can do so by visiting dorsetforyou.com. Or by emailing: housingimprovement@dorset.gov.uk