Landlord heavily fined for failing to improve property

A Peterborough landlord who failed to comply with orders to improve the standard of a property has had to pay over £7,500 in fines and court costs.

Brian Searle appeared at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on January 29. He was found guilty of failing to comply with two Improvement Notices ordering him to carry out extensive remedial work to a semi-detached house in Limetree Avenue, Peterborough.

The notices had been served by Peterborough City Council’s Housing Enforcement Team to bring the property up to required housing standards set by the authority.   

Searle, of Lincoln Road, Peterborough, was fined a total of £2,500 for the offences, ordered to pay full council costs of £4,896.12 and a victim surcharge of £170, bringing the total amount to £7,566.12.

The council was alerted to the property in October 2016 following a licence application under the authority’s Selective Licensing scheme. The initiative was introduced to improve property standards by requiring landlords who privately rent out properties in designated areas to obtain a licence.

A full condition inspection was carried out in January 2017 by the council's Senior Housing Enforcement Officer Peter Bezant who identified serious disrepair, a lack of modernisation and no proper heating system in place.

Building materials, tools and personal possessions were strewn throughout the house, making movement and access difficult without the risk of injury or a fall.

The property was also without a fire alarm, despite many combustible materials being littered around. Combustible materials were stacked against rear entrance doors, compromising escape in the event of a fire.

At the time of the inspection the property was occupied by a single adult male who was known to have ill health and limited mobility.

The council served Improvement Notices on Searle in June 2017 which required remedial works to be completed by August 2017.

Searle exercised his right of appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal (RPT) in June 2017 and a date set for a hearing was scheduled for September 2017. At the hearing, the RPT upheld the Improvement notices but varied the date for compliance to January 9 2019.

The court heard that Searle had failed to comply with the Improvement Notices by the revised date set by the RPT.

Councillor Peter Hiller, Peterborough City Council's cabinet member for housing,  said:  “This case demonstrates our zero tolerance stance towards landlords and letting agents who fail to meet their legal obligations. Such cases seriously impact on the everyday lives of those who have to live in such appalling conditions. Whenever we obtain evidence of landlords breaching legislation, we will look to prosecute where possible." 

Peter Bezant, Senior Housing Enforcement Officer at Peterborough City Council, added:  “The vast majority of landlords and agents are law abiding and we want to assure them that we will continue to drive up standards and seek out any rogue landlords who think they are above the law.

"Our team continues to work with landlords and agents to ensure that their properties meet current housing standards and to support and educate those who may need guidance on best practice in property management."

Further information on housing standards can be found on our website or by calling the council’s Housing Enforcement Team on 01733 747474 for any advice.

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