A PROMINENT Barnsley landlord with about 200 homes on his books ran an unauthorised house of multiple occupation (HMO) which put the safety of its tenants at risk, a court was told.

Francesco Campagna, of Browns Square, Hemingfield, pleaded guilty to four breaches of the Housing Act 2004 as well as failing to provide documents requested.

The 42-year-old was ordered to pay a £2,000 fine, costs of £1,320 and a £181 surcharge following an appearance at Barnsley Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Campagna, according to prosecutors, is a prominent landlord in the town who manages about 200 houses through his firm Campagna Properties Limited, a number of which he rents personally from letting agents on assured tenancies, then sub-lets them. The court case concerned a property on Castlereagh Street, Barnsley, which was identified as an unlawful HMO without planning permission by the council’s housing enforcement team.

The property didn’t have any form of smoke detection or fire doors and the house was in a general state of disrepair, including having a large hole in the kitchen ceiling and severe damp in the bathroom.

After making Campagna aware of hazards at the property via a written management regulation letter, an inspection took place last summer and the council subsequently found the repairs had not been attended to and decided to take legal action.

In mitigation, Campagna stated that he had ‘been naive’ as he did not realise his property was an HMO, saying he had rented it to a single female. He also added he had noticed issues such as padlocked rooms but had asked the tenant to remove these.

Coun Jenny Platts said: “We know that residents in this area of Barnsley are very concerned with the increase and management of HMOs, however the majority of letting agents are taking care to manage their properties in the correct way.”

There are more than 100 registered HMOs in Barnsley but this is a number that will continue to rise if the council does not take action, according to the Save S70 group, a band of residents in the most affected parts of town who have come together to oppose new planning applications for HMOs.

The campaign group’s members argue that areas in which HMOs thrive become prone to reports of antisocial behaviour, noise and increased rubbish, but Coun Platts warned that the council will continue to take a tough stance on landlords found to be flouting regulations.

“When the council identifies that someone has not been following legislation it is important to take full enforcement action to show that we will not tolerate these kinds of properties being mismanaged,” she added.

“Many vulnerable people rely on this sector of the housing market.”