£12,000 fine for landlord of unsafe home

A landlord has been fined £12,000 after setting up unlicensed and unsafe apartments in a Bexhill property.

Ryan Antony Otto, Director of Otto Investments Ltd of Regent Street London was fined by Hastings Magistrate’s Court for failing to licence a house in multiple occupation and failing to comply with two Improvement Notices issued by Rother District Council.

Mr Otto, 42 converted a two-bedroom house at 38 Barrack Road into five bedsits and charged tenants between £370 to £470 a month.

In 2018, the landlord was told he must apply for a House of Multiple Occupancy license for the property as it had five tenants, but his application was refused because the council deemed that he was not a fit and proper person.

Mr Otto was advised to reduce the number of tenants or find another person to manage the property but failed to do so.

Following a complaint from a tenant about the condition of the property in March 2021, Rother District Council officers inspected the property and served notices requiring Mr Otto to make repairs and improvement to areas including a unfit toilet/shower article and electrical installation that had not been inspected and tested.

At Hastings Magistrates court on Tuesday, June 14, Mr Otto was fined £6,000 for running an unlicensed HMO and a total of £6,000 for breaching two Rother District Council’s improvement notices.  He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £190 and cover the council’s costs which totalled £3,705.

Cllr Terry Byrne, the district council’s portfolio holder for housing said: “This prosecution is a good result for private tenants in Rother and for the council.

“It clearly shows that our officers have the expertise and the will to pursue and prosecute private landlords who offer unsafe and sub-standard accommodation for rent on the private market.

“We are committed to raising standards in this sector and have several schemes to help landlords achieve these. We always prefer to work with landlords but if we do not get the required level of co-operation we will prosecute.”

Tenants of unlicensed HMOs may be able to reclaim their rent by applying for rent repayment orders.  Tenants can contact Citizens Advice for more information.

Rother District Council’s private sector housing team provides advice, information and support to landlords and tenants in a bid to improve the quality of privately rented properties in the district. For more information visit www.rother.gov.uk/environmental-health/private-rented-housing/

Ends.

Published: 21st June 2022