A landlord who was prosecuted for ignoring improvement notices on two HMOs has had his convictions quashed.
Jaswinder Khatkar was fined £19,000 after being found guilty of 11 charges of failing to comply with orders relating to properties in Hartington Street, Derby.
However, an appeal hearing at Derby Crown Court quashed these convictions after his defence cited “fundamental errors and defects” in the council’s case while the process used to prosecute him was found to have not complied with the Housing Act.
During an inspection at the two properties, housing standards officers had found a number of areas for improvement and recommended fitting secondary glazing, new insulation and a new heating system.
Khatkar said he was only made aware of the notice after the 28-day appeal period, which meant he could not appeal against it, but that 99% of the work was done very quickly at a cost of about £30,000.
He said: “The council gave me 12 weeks over Christmas to sort it out. But for all of the works you’re looking at six months to complete. It takes nine weeks for just the glazing to go from call to order because they have to be custom-made.”
Khatkar, who owns a number of properties in Derby, said he had had the property inspected and declared safe by the time he was charged for non-compliance.
He added that the court case had affected him getting an HMO licence. “Given the way I have been treated I will now be considering further legal action for damages.”
A Derby City Council spokesperson says: “Following a re-evaluation of the council’s position, after considering the grounds of the appeal which raised a number of technical points, the decision was taken not to contest the appeal.
This resulted in the appeals being allowed unopposed. At all stages, the council made it clear that its position on the triable issue of ‘reasonable excuse’ remained unchanged.”