Rogue landlord told to repay tenants

A rogue Bristol landlord who ran an unlicensed house in multiple occupation (HMO) has been ordered to repay the tenants £9,600 in rent.

Ramiz Kafai “committed an offence” by failing to register the property at 47B Zetland Road in Redland with the city council, a residential property tribunal panel ruled.

It ordered him to repay four months’ rent, plus costs, to three of the four tenants – the maximum amount allowed in the case.

The panel’s decision followed a hearing at Bristol magistrates’ court and tribunal hearings centre .

Three tenants – Kane Eddy, Christopher Down and George Martin – applied for a rent repayment order after a Bristol City Council investigation found the four-bedroom maisonette required a HMO licence.

The decision report said they, along with a fourth person, Joe Pincombe, moved into the house in July 2021 and that Mr Kafai took over management the following February and gave them notice to quit.

It said they could not find alternative accommodation so accepted the offer of a rolling six-month tenancy at £2,400 rent a month from April 1, 2022, which they signed with Mr Kafai, who did not appear and was not represented at October’s hearing.

The report said they were first made aware that the HMO was unlicensed during a visit from the council in June 2022.

It said they moved out in early 2023 and that housing officer Jason O’Neill-Blake told them on March 15 that they could be entitled to rent repayment, so they applied to the tribunal for an order.

Mr Pincombe “did not get around to making his application”, it said.

A written statement by Mr O’Neill-Blake, submitted in evidence, said the building was in the Central area designated licensing scheme which required a licence for shared houses with at least three tenants.

The decision report said Mr O’Neill-Blake wrote to Mr Kafai, the landlord, and his wife Seval Kafai, the registered owner, on June 17, 2022, telling them to apply for a licence within 28 days.

They failed to meet the deadline but Mrs Kafai subsequently submitted an application on August 1 and a licence was issued.

The report said: “The tribunal determines that the property was, between April 1, 2022, and July 31, 2022, a House in Multiple Occupation that required to be licensed and was not so licensed.

“The Tribunal accepts the clear evidence given by all three applicants that it was the respondent who managed the property and who dealt with matters that arose.”

The report added: “The conduct of the tenants appears to be above reproach.

“The decision of the respondent and Mrs Kafai to apply for a licence indicates that they accept the need for a licence and the fact that the property was previously unlicenced [sic].

By Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service