The case of a landlord fined £38,000 for illegally renting rooms to students in Northampton has been re-opened.
At a hearing last month, Jason Berrington was found guilty of letting rooms to 31 students in five properties, despite not having a licence for multiple occupancy in any of them.
Berrington was convicted in his absence at Northampton Magistrates’ Court – but it has since emerged that he pleaded not guilty by post and this plea failed to reach the court because of an administrative error.
Last month’s case heard Berrington, aged 29, of Woolston Close, Manfield Grange, Northampton, was repeatedly given a chance to file the correct paperwork for the licences but he failed to do so. He was acting in his role of director of Student Housing Northamptonshire Ltd.
The court heard six people were living at properties in Derngate, Colwyn Road, Hester Street and Lutterworth Road, while seven were living at a property in St Michael’s Avenue.
Berrington applied to have the case re-opened, and this request was granted at Northampton Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
Mohammed Rahman, prosecuting for Northampton Borough Council, said: “It transpired Mr Berrington pleaded not guilty by post and hand-delivered the letter.”
The court heard the plea was only processed on July 8, the day of the case, and was then mistakenly sent to Northampton Crown Court.
Berrington, who was not required to be in court, was unrepresented at the hearing.
A HMO Licence (House of Multiple Occupancy) is required in any property over three storeys with five or more occupants. It costs £682.63 for up to five people, plus £20 per extra room.
At July’s hearing, Mr Rahman said Berrington had repeatedly assured the council he would submit the paperwork, but missed deadlines or sent in incomplete forms. The case will return to court later this month.