Glasgow landlord refused licence after renting flat illegally

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The property is found in the east end of Glasgow near Alexandra Park

A landlord who illegally rented out a flat in Glasgow’s east end to students has been refused a licence for the property.

Marc Phliponeau let his premises on Coventry Drive, near Alexandra Park, to three people without initially securing a house in multiple occupation [HMO] licence from Glasgow City Council. Anyone renting a property to three or more tenants who are not related needs to have a HMO licence. It is a criminal offence to operate without one.

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Mr Phliponeau told the city’s licensing committee he applied for a licence as soon as he realised his “mistake” but he was unable to reduce the number of tenants in the property.

Cllr Zen Ghani, SNP, said: “I’m struggling to understand your logic, you said it was a complex matter, but you wouldn’t necessarily do anything in life without a licence? You wouldn’t drive a car without a licence, so why did you think it was appropriate to start running a HMO without a licence?”

Cllr Ghani added it was “ridiculous” that the landlord had “profited illegally for over a year on a HMO”.

The applicant said he had “misunderstood the process”. “The tenants moved in in September [2022], I applied for the licence maybe one week after,” he added. Council officials noted the flat was being rented out during an inspection in November last year. Mr Phliponeau said he had discussed the issue with officials but he didn’t have an opportunity to move tenants out.

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“This is my first HMO, I was not really aware of the process of the application,” he said. “They are students, they stay for one year. They moved in last year in September, I have one of them leaving next week. From next week, there are only two tenants.”

John Boyle, from Scotlet Ltd, was contacted by the applicant for advice once he was aware of the issue. He told the committee: “We weren’t in a legal position to force any of the tenants to leave. We did try to see if there was any flexibility, but they were in the middle of their studies and they didn’t really have anywhere else to go, so we had to wait until there was a natural break.”

Cllr Alex Wilson, SNP, who chairs the licensing committee, said: “At some point you knew you had to apply for a licence, but you brought tenants into the property first? At some point you must have known you needed a licence, a week later you decided to contact the HMO unit. That doesn’t sit well with this committee at all.”

Bailie Leodhas Massie, Greens, seconded by Cllr Wilson, moved that the application should be refused. Bailie Hanif Raja, Labour, supported by Bailie Thomas Kerr, Conservative, suggested approving the licence for a restricted period of one year and issuing a warning to the landlord.

Councillors voted four to two to refuse the application.

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