Neglect tenants at your peril – Landlord fined £30k after leaving tenants with no heat for four weeks

A rogue landlord with property on Talgarth Road, Hammersmith has been fined more than £30,000 to reflect the serious “physical and mental hardship” endured by five tenants under his duty of care.

The five tenants, all architectural students, repeatedly pleaded with the landlord to fix the boiler and repair a shared toilet which was leaking waste into the property. Mr Cooper’s decision to ignore these pleases led the tenants to complaining to Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council’s private housing and health service, who looked in to the matter early this year.

Judging that the tenants were at ‘risk of immediate harm’, the council arranged for a new boiler to be installed and the toilet to be fixed – bringing to an end a four week period of hell for the tenants, who had suffered without heating or hot water in the depths of winter.

The following action against Mr Cooper, brought by the Council under the Housing Act, took place at Hammersmith Magistrates’ court. The Council’s lawyer was keen to reflect the physical and mental hardship suffered by the tenants in a hefty fine.

He got his wish, the Magistrates eventually settling on:

  • £15,000 for failing to license the house as an HMO;
  • £5,000 for failing to maintain the boiler;
  • £5,000 for not fixing a leaking soil pipe in the toilet; and
  • £3,000 for failing to respond to an investigator’s request for information.
  • £2,160 in costs, with a £120 victim surcharge

Further, the council stated afterward that the tenants could now also apply for a partial rent refund from Mr Cooper.

Cllr Lisa Homan, H&F Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said:

“This is a fantastic result – both for the tenants, who were forced to endure a miserable winter without heating or hot water, and for our private housing and health team, who did not hesitate in taking action when it was needed.

“We will continue to crack down hard on landlords who think they can get away with allowing their tenants to suffer in sub-standard conditions.”

The message is clear; Landlords must not unduly neglect their tenants, particularly when those tenants bring items of repair to their attention. Doing so will result in intervention by the Local Council – which can become very expensive for the offending property owner.

www.PropertySurveying.co.uk

23.10.14                                                                                                                                                           SRJ

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