Unlicensed landlord operated student flats

A man who was refused a licence to run multi-occupancy houses continued to operate student flats.

John Donnelly , aged 33, of Vesuvian Drive , Garston, was fined  £875 at Liverpool Magistrates Court on each of two counts of operating an unlicensed House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)  He had been found guilty at a previous hearing.

He was also found guilty of 10 breaches of regulations aimed at protecting the tenants from fire. There was no additional penalty imposed but he was ordered to pay the council  £2,000 in costs.

Donnelly, owns houses in  Hartington Road , Toxteth and Willowdale Road, Allerton. He had previously been prosecuted for operating the Hartington Road  house as an unlicensed HMO and for breaches of fire regulations in 2011 .

He had been told by the council that he was not a fit and proper person to hold a licence and would need to appoint a managing agent to manage his properties and act as the licence holder and that they would need to submit an application for the properties.

Donnelly told the council that Liverpool Residential Lettings Ltd were managing both properties for him and licensing applications were granted.  However, Environmental Health Officers found that Donnelly was continuing to  manage both properties and take rent payments himself.

An inspection of the Hartington Roadhouse found the front door – the primary means of escape in the event of a fire – had to be opened from the inside with a key which could  hinder escape. 

Fire doors would not open or close properly and didn’t fit properly in the door frames and among other defects there was damp and mould in a bedroom

As a result of this investigation the property in Willowdale Road was inspected. Officers found that the fire alarm system had numerous faults and there would be no warning alarm  in the event of a fire.  There was exposed electrical cabling in the kitchen and fire doors did not close properly. 

John Arrowsmith of Liverpool Residential Lettings Ltd who had pleaded guilty to similar charges relating to the two properties was fined £600 and ordered to pay £300 costs.

Councillor Ann O’Byrne, cabinet member for housing,  said: “These properties were rented out to young students coming to study in this city and their lives were clearly put at risk by someone who put profit before the safety of his tenants.  The Council does not take lightly any decision to brand someone an unfit and improper person but clearly in Mr Donnelly’s case that was and is a sound judgement.”