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Rogue landlord fined £7.5K after illegal HMO scam

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter

A rogue landlord has been fined more than £7,500 after running an illegal bedsit.

Frank Otuo, 51, raked in £4,240 per month in rent from more than five tenants in the property in Leigham Court Road, Streatham.

But Otuo didn’t have a licence to let out the property to so many people.

A Lambeth council investigation found that he rented out the house illegally for six months between July 2019 and January 2020.

Landlords who let out houses to five people or more not living as a family in Lambeth must get a licence from the council. Lambeth says its Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) scheme ensures tenants have good quality accommodation.

Otuo of Oxford Road, Putney will have dodged paying a fee of more than £2,500 to the council by not getting a HMO licence for the property. Lambeth council brought charges against him for illegally operating a HMO under section 72 of the Housing Act 2004.

He was convicted in his absence at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on April 4. Otuo was fined £1,500 for the offence, and told to pay court costs of over £2,250.

He appealed his conviction and sentence but it was rejected. Otuo was subsequently ordered to cover the council’s additional court costs, totalling £6,250 for both hearings. He was also told to pay his victims a surcharge of £32.

Otuo has been added to a national rogue landlords database so other councils will be aware of his case if he applies for a licence in the future.

Councillor Maria Kay, Lambeth’s cabinet member for Better Homes and Reducing Homelessness, said: “Unscrupulous landlords who put profit ahead of their tenants’ safety and wellbeing will not be tolerated in our borough and I welcome the court’s decision.

“It is important to recognise the tireless work of the council’s teams in ensuring this was uncovered. This prosecution shows that Lambeth council takes unlicensed HMOs very seriously and will pursue those in breach to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our residents.”

Pictured top: The house Frank Otuo illegally rented out (Picture: Lambeth council)

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