Following the landlord’s appeal to the Eastern Residential Property First-tier Tribunal, the original penality imposed by Fenland District Council was upheld.
Using new powers granted under 2017 legislation, allowing Councils to issue penalties up to a maximum of £30,000 for certain housing offences, as an alternative to prosecution, the council successfully defended its position at the tribunal.
The landlord, not named by the council, was fined for various housing offences which included: having a non-working fire alarm system; defective fire doors to his flats; building defects including damp; severely worn carpets on the stairs; insufficient heating, inadequate security and defective, warped and rotting windows.
The council served five civil penalty notices in total on the landlord earlier this year for failing to rectify the numerous safety hazards found at his block of flats.
The landlord had appealed one of the penalty notices relating to defective windows, which was heard in September by the Eastern Residential Property First-tier Tribunal.
The tribunal dismissed the appeal. Upholding the council’s action, the tribunal said the evidence was clear and the penalty imposed by the council was confirmed.
The defects in the property first came to light in early 2018 when Fenland District Council’s private sector housing team inspected the block of three flats in Wisbech. At the time a number of serious defects were found and the landlord was issued with improvement notices requiring remedial works to be carried out. However, the work was not completed within the specified time scale or not to the standard required.
Subsequently Fenland District Council issued five civil penalty notices for failing to comply with the improvement notices and breaching houses in multiple occupation (HMO) regulations. This included failing to licence a licensable HMO. The penalties imposed totalled £8,852.
Fenland District Council reports that it has served 29 civil penalties on landlords, ranging from fines of £500 to £30,000 and more recently tenants have also been fined for illegally sub-letting to others. The income received from these fines goes to improving the management and condition of housing in the Fenland district.
Cllr Samantha Hoy, Fenland District Council’s portfolio holder for housing, is reported as saying:
“Fenland District Council is committed to protecting residents from substandard and dangerous living conditions, supporting good and improving landlords and taking a robust stance against criminal landlords.
“We will not hesitate to use legal powers to improve standards in the private rented sector and landlords who place the health and safety of tenants at risk can expect enforcement action to be taken against them.
“It’s also a warning to tenants that if they sublet, we can and will serve penalties on them as they are in effect the landlord.”