Ipswich landlord fined after people found sleeping in cupboard under stairs

People were found sleeping in a cupboard under the stairs at the property in Reading Road, Ipswich.

People were found sleeping in a cupboard under the stairs at the property in Reading Road, Ipswich. - Credit: Ipswich Borough Council

An Ipswich landlord has been ordered to pay fines and costs of more than £11,000 after his property was found to be occupied by 12 people — some of whom were sleeping in a cupboard under the stairs. 

Ipswich Borough Council launched an investigation into the Reading Road property — owned by Martyn Williams of Park Road, Needham Market — in August 2019, following complaints by neighbours and information from another council. 

This led to the council, Suffolk police, and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority entering the property with a warrant in February 2020.

12 people were found to be occupying the property in Reading Road, Ipswich.

12 people were found to be occupying the property in Reading Road, Ipswich. - Credit: Ipswich Borough Council

The property was found to be occupied by 12 people, despite there not being a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence. 

People were also found sleeping in an under-stairs cupboard which also housed the electrical distribution board.

There was no fire alarm system or fire safety measures in place, and a key would be needed to leave the property.

Serious electrical defects were also discovered by council officers, along with a significant amount of disrepair to the property. 

People were also found sleeping in an under-stairs cupboard which also housed the electrical distribution board.

People were also found sleeping in an under-stairs cupboard which also housed the electrical distribution board. - Credit: Ipswich Borough Council



Mr Williams entered a guilty plea for the offence of failing to license the HMO.

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He was ordered to pay more than £11,500 in fines and legal costs for the offence of failing to license a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) at Ipswich Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.

He was fined £4,000, which had been reduced due to his guilty plea, and was also ordered to pay costs of £7,596.

Electrical faults were discovered at the Reading Road property.

Electrical faults were discovered at the Reading Road property. - Credit: Ipswich Borough Council

Ian Blofield, head of housing and community services at Ipswich Borough Council, said the council will hold those to account should they put residents at risk.

He said: “HMOs must be licensed to both help better ensure the safety and comfort of residents as well as the impact of the property on the area. Failure to licence an HMO is an offence.

"This will be met with enforcement action which can result in a criminal conviction.”

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