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NEWS


Fines and prosecutions Landlords fined for multiple flats’ fire safety breaches


CROYDON COUNCIL has fined two private property companies responsible for more than 30 unlicensed flats in one building in the London borough, after serious fire safety breaches were found. Croydon Advertiser reported


on the prosecutions of the two businesses after London Fire Brigade (LFB) alerted Croydon Council about ‘serious’ fire safety breaches in ‘as many as’ 36 flats in the former NatWest building on Sydenham Road. Among those identified were a locked fire escape, ‘poor’ ventilation and defective fire doors, which meant that there was ‘serious harm or potential harm’ posed to tenants. In turn, LFB described the breaches as rating ‘10 out of 10’ in terms of their seriousness. Further to this, it was established that the flats were not licensed by the council under its landlord licensing scheme, and while all of the fire safety issues have been resolved since LFB visited in 2017, it was also noted that one of the flat's tenants ‘did not know the building’s fire evacuation procedures’, which would have been a ‘condition if the property was licensed’. This property became the focal


point for the licensing investigation, which later led to building owner


AA Homes and Housing and Anabow Services having to submit all 36 ‘fully correct and paid-for’ landlord licence applications. This took them until March 2018 to do for the five storey block, and the two private companies were taken to court by the council. At court, first tier tribunal


property chamber judge Sonya O’Sullivan stated: ‘There were serious fire safety issues in the property and accordingly there was serious harm or potential harm to the tenants in failure to license. We agree that there had been a wholesale failure to license as many as 36 flats out of a total 52 [which] is a relevant factor to be weighed against the Applicants.’


She fined them a combined


total of £32,000, but agreed to reduce the fine by £6,000 after both companies appealed. Alison Butler, deputy leader


and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services, said: ‘Private landlords have a duty to keep all their tenants safe, and the council’s landlord licensing scheme makes sure they do. ‘This landlord knew they


had to license all their rented properties but failed to meet this responsibility until council officers took action. Most Croydon landlords do the right thing, and this case shows that any landlord who does flout the rules risks a hefty fine.’


Cardiff landlord guilty of ‘horrifying’ safety failings In addition, both the front and


ALVIN GEORGE Chisholm was prosecuted following an investigation by Cardiff Council, which found issues including breaches of fire safety. Wales Online reported on the


prosecution of Mr Chisholm, after a tenant at his property contacted the council about its condition and an officer visited to inspect it soon afterwards. The report stated that the ‘horrifying’ findings included an unmaintained and defective fire alarm; no fire protection for the gas and electricity meters; no fire escapes; an ‘unsafe’ kitchen; unmaintained waste water pipes and heating; and the fact access was available to an unsafe flat roof.


back garden of the two storey property, which was divided into two flats, were filled with rubbish and builders’ waste. At Cardiff Magistrates Court, he pleaded guilty to 12 charges relating to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) management and licensing regulations, having initially pleaded not guilty in September. At sentencing, he was given a fine of £5,000. Lynda Thorne, who is cabinet


member for housing and the council’s communities councillor, stated: ‘This case is a clear example of a landlord renting out a property in a state which is completely unacceptable. The pictures of the


10 DECEMBER 2018/JANUARY 2019 www.frmjournal.com


property speak for themselves. I would like to make it clear to all the landlords that think they can rent out sub-standard properties that they need to think again. ‘If these matters are reported to


us, then we will investigate and then take necessary action in the best interests of the tenants.’ After the case, Mr Chisholm told


Wales Online that the property had been managed for several years by a housing association, but that he was still the owner of the property. He maintained that he was a ‘good landlord’, and noted that all the issues raised had ‘been resolved’


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