It shows that landlords and agents ARE being prosecuted and fined by the Courts – sometimes quite heavily.
R v Weston and Williams – Worcester Crown Court
Here the defendants ran a letting agency called Premier Places in Redditch and Worcester. They were members of TDS but failed to ring fence tenancy deposit funds. This eventually cost the TDS scheme more than £63,000 when it had to pay out to the tenants.
Weston, who ran the business, pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud at Worcester Crown Court and Williams pleaded guilty to three counts of forgery. They were given suspended prison sentences and ordered to undertake community service.
A report linked to from Destin states that TDS were furious at this sentance which they felt was unduly lenient. However the Judge is reported as saying that Weston was bankrupt and the events had had a devastating effect on his family; also he exhibited genuine remorse.
R v Mathew Richard Tapper – Brent Magistrates Court
Here Tapper was a private sector landlord prosecuted by Harrow Council for failing to rectify ‘excess cold’ hazards at his property.
The total fine and costs came to £3,505
R v Christopher Stewart Andrews – Redhill Magistrates Court
Here the prosecution was brought by Reigate & Banstead BC after the defendant failed to carry out works to reduce the risks from fire in a basement flat at 58 London Road, Redhill.
He did not attend the hearing but in his absence was fined the maximum penalty of £5000 and ordered to pay the Council’s full costs of £1100.
A total of £6,100.
R v Martin Horsfall – Leeds Magistrates Court
Leeds CC declared a selective licensing area in part of its district (Cross Green and East End Park). The defendant had four properties which he failed to license despite being asked to do so by the Council (although he denied recieving them). The report on the Council website stated:
Council officers went to considerable lengths to engage with Mr Horsfall …. Mr Horsfall denied receiving any correspondence or having any recollection of any of the phone calls despite records of the conversations being made.
Mr Horsfall applied to have his case reopened after originally being prosecuted on the 17 of March 2011 in his absence. He claimed he had not received the legal summonses due to him moving address, despite seven of the summonses being opened and returned to the courts.
Mr Horsfall’s properties gave further cause for concern after visits were made to one of his properties by officers of the council which highlighted a serious lack of fire safety provision.
He was fined £14,000 plus costs of over £6,817.62. Total £20,817.62.
R v Peter and Frances Kavanagh – Salford Magistrates Court
This is another failure to comply with selective licensing. The report in Salford Online states
The Kavanagh’s failed to show at court and were found guilty in their absence. They were each fined £525 for every property they failed to get a licence for – amounting to £5,250.
They were also ordered to pay £580 towards court costs and £30 in victims surcharges.
So that is a total of £5,860
R v Blue Square Projects – Nuneaton Magistrates Court
This is prosecution for failure to comply with an improvement notice relating to a dangerous property.
Blue Square Projects of Edgbaston were renting out a property in Dordon to the tenant, her partner and four children. Following the tenant’s complaint to North Warwickshire Borough Council, the Environmental Health Team visited the property to find rotten windows, mould in the bathroom, bedroom and living room, faulty radiators and overloaded electrical sockets. The Council then advised Blue Square Projects to rectify the damage, which they subsequently failed to do.
However, surprise surprise, the work did not get done.
Assistant Director: Housing, Angela Coates explained : ” This was a catalogue of disasters, with contractors turning up when the tenant was absent or not turning up at all when promised. “
As the property was still a risk to the health and safety of the tenants, the Council decided to take the matter to court, and to carry out the works themselves and recharge Blue Square Projects.
The company was fined £2,093 after his solicitors pleaded guilty on his behalf by post.
R v Bis-Mil-Lah Enterprises Ltd – Luton Magistrates Court
Here the defendant owned two detached outbuildings of a property at 50 Brook Street which were being used as self-contained dwellings without planning permission. An enforcement notice was served by Luton Council because the buildings were being let for accommodation without planning permission and were unsuitable as residential premises.
Needless to say, the company failed to comply with the notice. Taking account of the benefit derived from the letting, the company was fined £15,000 for non-compliance and ordered it to pay a £10,000 contribution towards the Council’s costs.
R v Karen Gamon – Bodmin Magistrates Court
This case involves breaches of the House in Multiple Occupation Management Regulations by the defendant landlord Ms Gamon.
Miss Gamon was informed of the HMO Management Regulations breaches by the Council but failed over a significant period of time to carry out necessary works to improve the standards in her property to an acceptable level.
Works specified included the requirements to remove stored combustibles restricting safe use of the means of escape in the property, make safe the loose and cracked concrete tiled entrance pathway steps, remedy penetrating damp to the ground floor porch and remove large accumulations of refuse to the rear of the property.
She was fined £1,700 with costs of £173.67 and a £15 victim surcharge – total £1,888.67.
R v Darren Harrison – Burton Magistrates Court
This is another case involving breach of the HMO regulations.
when council officers inspected Mr Harrison’s property in Elizabeth Drive, Tamworth in November last year, the smoke alarm system was not working, he failed to provide the local authority with gas and electrical safety certificates for the property, the bathroom and shower areas were poorly maintained and unhygienic, the light fitting in the ground floor toilet was defective and could not be used, the kitchen was in an unhygienic condition and there was no notice on display providing contact information to the occupants of the premises.
Harrison (who operates as Staffordshire Lettings) failed to provide the council with gas and electrical safety certificates for the property.
He was fined £4,965 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £2,400, plus a £15 victim surcharge. A total of £7,380.
Nine cases with nine different penalties. They seem fairly variable to me, but at least it shows that successful prosecutions are being done.