Famous buy to let landlord Judith Wilson has been fined £10,000 and ordered to pay almost £15,000 costs for failing to comply with an enforcement notice ordering her to supply hot water to a disabled tenant.
With her husband Fergus, Judith Wilson owns hundreds of buy to let units in Kent.
She pleaded guilty at a hearing in November and now this week, returning to court for sentencing, she has been fined £10,000 and must pay Ashford council’s full legal costs of £14,890.94p.
An Ashford council spokesman says: “In this case we did everything we could to resolve the situation. We gave Mrs Wilson every opportunity to find a solution to the problem but we were ignored. In the end, we realised that the only way to get justice for the tenants involved was to prosecute."
The prosecution case centred on an allegation that Wilson was the owner of a tenanted property in Ashford which had ongoing problems with its hot water and heating system that led to the council serving an enforcement notice requiring that the defects be remedied.
The council told the court that Wilson failed to ensure that the defects were remedied within the period allowed by the notice, which led to the authority carrying out the work itself.
In her defence, Mrs Wilson claimed she had "a reasonable excuse" for failing to comply with the notice - namely that the damage to the boiler and heating system was caused by the tenants or their agents; that she was not permitted access to the premises; she had insufficient time to complete the work; and she reasonably relied on the council to carry out the repair itself.
In delivering his verdict last month, the judge said that the defendant had "every opportunity to resolve the issues but Mr Wilson was consistently difficult and stubbornly refused to make any genuine commitment to the council to get the work carried out".
The judge added: "The Wilsons have shrewdly built up what can best be described as a property empire. They know very well that there is no duty on the council to carry out repairs on their behalf and then bill them for the work.
“As owners of around 300 properties it is entirely reasonable to expect them to have arrangements in place to enable this type of issue to be dealt with promptly.
"Taking into account the evidence… I find that Mr and Mrs Wilson could have had the work carried out within the period allowed by the abatement notice but chose not to. In this case those were not the actions of responsible landlords.”