A landlord has been fined £5,000 for renting out an "abandoned house" and failing to notify the council.
Ashford Borough Council brought the case against Josh Ahmad after finding a supposedly empty house filled with tenants.
The property, 6 Canterbury Road in Ashford, first came to the authority's attention as an empty building before it changed hands twice between 2016 and 2018.
Magistrates at the Canterbury Magistrates Court heard how the council later discovered it had been refurbished and that it was assumed the house was being used by a large number of people.
In order to regulate the quality of Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO), a license must be sought for premises with five or more residents.
In April, the council wrote to Mr Ahmad's known addresses and visited his business to hand deliver a legal notice requiring him to provide information about the property, hoping he'd co-operate and determine whether he'd need a HMO license.
The magistrates were told council officers suspected five or more people lived at the Canterbury Road house, but that a license couldn't be given and enforcement action couldn't be taken without landlord confirmation.
After he failed to respond to the notification, Ashford Borough Council prosecuted him with the charge of failing to comply with a requirement of a notice served on him on April 11.
Despite not appearing in court last Tuesday, Mr Ahmad was found guilty by the bench.
They imposed a fine of £5,000 and ordered him to pay £650 towards the council’s legal costs. A victim surcharge of £170 was levied on the defendant and he was ordered to pay in full within 28 days.
Sharon Williams, head of housing at Ashford Borough Council, said: “We have a responsibility to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents. We will not hesitate to take legal action against the owners of properties who flout the rules designed to safeguard their tenants.
“Landlords of Houses in Multiple Occupation who fail to hold an appropriate licence or breach the terms of the licence, could face serious penalties, including hefty fines and criminal prosecution. I would urge all landlords to ensure they comply with the legislation.
"If you are an existing landlord or someone who is about to become one, I advise you to contact us for help and guidance – email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Mr Ahmad's Canterbury Road property is now the subject of a further legal notice asking for co-operation from the landlord.