Property firm allegedly ran three illegal houses in multiple occupation

Shen Residences director Zhiqiang Shen appeared before Suffolk Magistrates' Court  Picture: GREGG BROWN

Shen Residences director Zhiqiang Shen appeared before Suffolk Magistrates' Court Picture: GREGG BROWN

A property manager has been accused of running three unlicensed houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in Ipswich.

Shen Residences and company director Zhiqiang Shen face prosecution by Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) for allegedly operating two HMOs without a licence in Woodbridge Road and a third in Granville Street.

The 39-year-old, of Manor Road, Chatham, in Kent, denied all allegations against him and the company at Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

He and the firm are jointly accused of 28 offences relating to the three properties, including operating HMOs without a section 61(1) licence, required under the Housing Act, as well as breaches of HMO maintenance regulations.

IBC alleges that both Woodbridge Road properties also lacked fire escape routes and contained bedrooms with mouldy windows.

The local authority also alleges that one of the Woodbridge Road properties contained two windowless bedrooms, no protected escape route, no adequate fire alarm, and a first-floor bedroom fitted with a hasp and staple fastening capable of being padlocked and trapping the occupants inside.

Other alleged breaches of HMO regulations at the property include a mouldy bathroom and first floor rear room, no light bulbs in the ground floor entrance, lobby, corridor or rear room, and loose paving slabs in a back garden containing beds, furniture, building materials and a shopping trolley.

At the property in Granville Street, allegations include a lack of escape route, fire alarm and emergency lighting, the only hand wash basin being located in the rear yard, and the only WC being located in an external lean-to shed in the rear yard, where beds and other materials were being stored.

Both Shen and the company are also accused of failing to comply with notices served by IBC to obtain particulars of persons interested in land, and failing to produce documents as required by a notice under the Housing Act.

They are also accused of failing to provide occupants with contact details, and with failing to provide evidence of every fixed electrical installation being inspected and tested by a professional at intervals not exceeding five years.

A two-day trial has been scheduled to take place on May 20 and 21 at Suffolk Magistrates’ Court.

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