Landlord fined for 'overcrowding' after 11 people were squeezed into Leeds property

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A landlord who squeezed 11 tenants into a Leeds property only fit for seven people has been ordered to pay more than £29,000.

Matthew Corrie was handed the fine by magistrates following a prosecution brought by Leeds City Council over allegations of overcrowding at the property in High Cliffe, Headingley.

A hearing at Leeds Magistrates' Court ruled that Corrie, of Edinburgh, breached licence conditions as well over-occupancy.

Speaking after the ruling, Coun Debra Coupar, the council's executive member for communities, said tenants' safety is paramount and that the authority would look to prosecute any landlords who break the rules.

We are addressing the huge demand for housing in the city and overcrowding issues by working with landlords to make sure they know what is safe and reasonable," she said.

"And our recently launched Leeds Rental Standard encourages self-regulation in the sector raising the standards of accommodation and inspiring tenant confidence.

“We want landlords to do the right thing, and I’m delighted that the vast majority do. However, where we hear that the rules are being broken and landlords are putting tenants at risk we will look to prosecute and make sure the safety of tenants is paramount.

“I would ask landlords and agents to check their HMO Licences to ensure they comply with licence conditions and to ensure their licence has not expired.”

The prosecution was part of the council's work with landlords of shared houses, or HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation), to ensure tenants are safe and being provided with good quality accommodation.

The council said Leeds issues the largest number of mandatory HMO licences in England.

HMO licences have conditions to ensure residents are kept safe and include fire safety requirements, amenity levels for cooking, washing, and general maintenance as well as controlling the number of tenants that each property can safely house.

It is a criminal offence for landlords and agents to operate a licensable HMO without holding a licence or to breach their licence conditions. Each licence lasts for up to 5 years and the council is now renewing licences for the 2,800 licensable HMOs across Leeds.

Corrie, who was not present in court, was fined £10,000 for the over-occupancy offence and £15,000 for breaching licence conditions.

He was also ordered to pay £4,000 costs and a £175 victim surcharge.