South West

Hefty fine for law breaking landlord

A landlord from Bath has been successfully prosecuted by Bath & North East Somerset Council and given a hefty fine by Magistrates for breaches in fire safety requirements in a house they rented out at The Oval, Bath.

The property, which is a house in multiple occupation (HMO), owned by Mr. Hei Ting Cheung was visited by officers from the Council’s Housing Services Team following a complaint. At the time of the visit, the battery fire alarms did not work, there was no door to the kitchen to prevent the spread of smoke and fire and the door locks were unsuitable as they could cause occupants to become trapped in the event of a fire. After the landlord failed to install appropriate fire precautions to protect the occupants, the Council took the decision to prosecute under Section 30 of the Housing Act 2004.

Fining Mr Cheung, of Hayesfield Park, £1,150, plus costs of £150 and £15 victim surcharge, the Magistrate’s said that what the landlord had done fell incredibly short of what was required by the improvement notice issued by the Council.

Councillor Tim Ball (Lib-Dem, Twerton), Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning, said, “Landlords must ensure that their housing is in safe condition or feel the full force of the law. They must get their houses in order. Extensive guidance is available on Bath & North East Somerset Council’s website and directly from our Housing Standards Team.

“A worrying trend with many of these cases is the use of deadlocks on fire doors by landlords which turn the house into a death trap. This must stop and we will take action against those who put their tenants in danger.”

Graham Sabourn, Council Associate Director for Housing, added, “We are very pleased with the result of this prosecution and are encouraged that the level of fine reflects the seriousness of the offence. The Council will always try to work in partnership with landlords and tenants to improve housing standards but where this fails we will resort to taking strong enforcement action.”

The Council is stressing that it is only a minority of landlords who fail to comply with the rules. Some 1,000 inspections are conducted every year by the Council with 500 landlords and tenants requesting advice.

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