A LANDLORD couple have to pay nearly £5,000 in court bills for not getting their property properly licensed.

City of York Council officers found a litany of fire safety and other defects at the Blossom Street three-storey building which Aligul and Gulten Kala rented out to six people in five rooms over three floors, said Victoria Waudby, prosecuting.

Aligul Kala applied for housing benefit for one of his tenants, quoting a monthly rent more than twice that which he had told a housing and community officer he was getting for the room.

The part-time pizza deliverer, 48, who manages the property and, his wife, school dinner lady Gulten Kala, 43, who owns the property, both of Gillingwood Road, Rawcliffe, pleaded guilty to not having a licence for a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

York magistrates fined each £1,200, plus a £120 statutory surcharge and the couple has to pay £2,351 towards the council’s prosecution costs.

Aligul Kala disputed that the tenants had been there for longer than three months and that there had been six tenants. He said there were now no tenants.

Mrs Waudby told the court that the reason HMOs have to be licensed is to ensure tenant safety.

Although the safety defects were not enough to justify closing the building immediately, they would have had to be rectified as part of the license application process.

But despite officers telling them how to apply and sending them an application form, the couple did not do so.

The safety defects included no carbon monoxide detectors, trip hazards on fire escape routes, fire extinguishers not checked that they were in working order, kitchen units and the electric meter in a poor state of repair and loose handrails on staircases.

Despite numerous attempts by housing officers to speak to tenants, they only managed to do so once when they were told six people lived there.

Aligul Kala told the council in March he collected £720 a month from the rooms, £120 from a ground floor room and £150 from each of four upper floor rooms.

But when he claimed housing benefit for a tenant of one of the more expensive rooms in June, he claimed the rent was £340.

In June Aligul Kala got permission to convert the upper floors into offices. The couple get rent from a fish and chip shop on the ground floor.