Council secures conviction against HMO owner for health and safety breaches

Conviction against HMO Vicarage Road

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Watford Borough Council has successfully prosecuted Mr Syed Shah, owner of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) located at 313 Vicarage Road, for numerous breaches that posed significant risks to the health and safety of tenants and was ordered to pay a total of £26,535.41 for his offences.

The case arose from concerns raised by two tenants residing at 313 Vicarage Road, who contacted the council’s Environmental Health department on 2 August 2023. They reported ongoing building works at the property, including the removal of bedroom walls, and the unsafe storage of tools and building materials in escape routes.

Upon investigation on 3 August 2023, council officers found multiple breaches that put the safety of the tenants at risk, particularly in the event of a fire. These breaches included compromised fire detection systems and escape routes, non-functioning fire doors, blocked escape routes, and missing smoke detectors and fire blankets.

In response, the Environmental Health Officer prohibited the use of two bedrooms on the top floor for sleeping until they were made safe. Additionally, Mr Shah was required to undertake emergency works to install guarding on the first-floor landing and in the kitchen to ensure tenant safety in the event of a fire.

It was also discovered that Mr Shah had added a third storey to the property without the appropriate licensing. This expansion resulted in nine tenants residing in a three-storey property, exceeding the occupancy permitted by the existing HMO licence.

Mr Shah appeared before St Albans Magistrates Court on 10 April 2024, where he pleaded guilty to all 13 offences. He was sentenced to pay a fine of £12,000, with additional court surcharges and legal costs, bringing the total amount to £26,535.41. The court ordered Mr Shah to make monthly payments of £500 towards the penalty.

Justine Hoy, Associate Director of Housing and Wellbeing at the council, said: “Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our residents is paramount. We will not tolerate any compromises to housing standards that put lives at risk.

“This successful prosecution sends a clear message that we will hold rogue landlords accountable for their obligations to provide safe and secure accommodation. They not only risk tents lives, but also the reputation of the vast majority of our responsible landlords who are providing high quality and essential homes."

If you wish to make a complaint about the condition of your rented property and have already unsuccessfully spoken with your landlord, please contact the council at

Published: 11th April 2024

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