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Rogue Landlord Fined £10k in Thanet

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An interesting article I received from Tom Entwistle at Landlord Zone.

A landlord has been fined £10,000 for failing to comply with the requirements of two Improvement Notices served by the Council.

Cllr. Chris Wells, Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “I am pleased that the magistrates decided to fine Sandwich Properties Ltd the maximum amount. This company was clearly unable or unwilling to look after their property, and did not have any regard for the safety of tenants.

We always try to work with landlords to improve housing conditions, but where such blatant disregard for tenant safety is evident, we will use every power available to us to ensure that rogue landlords are brought to justice and tenants are provided with the safe living environment that everyone deserves.

We are also committed to protecting the public purse wherever possible, especially in these times of financial constraint. This is why we always charge for the service of Improvement Notices if the deadlines set out within them are not met”.

In 2009, officers of the Housing Regeneration Team visited 102 Grosvenor Place in Margate and found a property containing four flats which contained serious health and safety hazards. There were no fire precautions or safe means of escape and none of the lights in the shared entrance or staircase were working. The property had been neglected and the internal conditions were dirty and dilapidated.

Following enquiries, Sandwich Properties Ltd of Rookwood Road, London, was identified as the freehold owner. Subsequently, the council served enforcement notices on the freehold owner requiring fire safety improvements and suitable lighting within the common areas.

Unfortunately, when officers returned to the premises after the notice deadlines had passed, none of the work had been completed. Attempts were made to try and meet with the company to discuss the situation, but the company ignored the council’s letters.

In a case heard at Canterbury Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday this week (01 February 2011), Sandwich Properties Ltd were found guilty of failing to comply with the notices without reasonable excuse and fined the maximum £5,000 for each offence. The company was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £15 and contribute £100 towards the council’s prosecution costs.

As the lack of artificial lighting presented a considerable risk to the tenants of the property, the council stepped in and installed suitable lighting themselves. The company has been charged with the full cost of this work, together with the cost of officer time and a further administration fee. The company was also charged £911.25 for the council’s expenses associated with service of the original notices. Further action is now being pursued to ensure that the fire safety improvements are made.

If you are an owner of a residential building containing common areas, and would like advice about your health and safety responsibilities, you can contact the Council’s Housing Regeneration Team on 01843 577437 for further information.

Press Release – Thanet District Council: 03 February, 2011

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