Friday, 17 October 2014

Massive fine for rogue landlord who let out freezing flat

A landlord who allowed his tenants to suffer a freezing winter with no heating or hot water has been fined more than £30,000.

Unlicensed landlord Royston Cooper let out the home in Talgarth Road, Hammersmith to five architectural students, despite it having a broken boiler and a shared toilet that leaked waste.

When Cooper ignored pleas to fix the boiler, the students complained to Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s private housing and health service, which investigated and took action at the start of the year.

Council officers recognised the tenants were at risk of immediate harm and arranged for a new boiler to be installed and the toilet to be fixed while taking action against the rogue landlord, who had broken the law by failing to license the property as a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

At Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court last week, the council’s lawyer argued that a hefty fine was needed to reflect the physical and mental hardship endured by the five tenants, who were left without heating and hot water for four weeks.

Cooper, 47, of Billingshurst, West Sussex, did not appear and was found guilty of four offences under the Housing Act.

He was fined £15,000 for failing to license the house as an HMO, £5,000 for failing to maintain the boiler, a further £5,000 for not fixing a leaking soil pipe in the toilet, and another £3,000 for failing to respond to an investigator’s request for information.

He was also ordered to pay costs of £2,160 and a victim surcharge of £120. The tenants, who moved out in February, can now apply to have some of their rent returned.

Cllr Lisa Homan, the 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.”

Landlords must hold a licence for each HMO that they own if it is rented out to five or more people, is at least three-storeys high and has a shared toilet, bathroom or kitchen.

Click here to read original article 'Massive fine for rogue landlord who let out freezing flat'