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Hefty fine after buy to let owner fails to comply with Improvement Notice

A landlord who failed to comply with orders to improve the standard of a property has had to pay over £7,500 in fines and court costs.

Brian Searle has been found guilty by magistrates in Peterborough of failing to comply with two Improvement Notices served by the council and ordering him to carry out extensive remedial work to a semi-detached house in the town.

Searle, of Peterborough, was fined a total of £2,500 for the offences, ordered to pay full council costs of £4,896.12 and a victim surcharge of £170, bringing the total amount to £7,566.12.

The council was alerted to the property in October 2016 following a licence application under its Selective Licensing scheme. The initiative was introduced to improve property standards by requiring landlords who privately rent out properties in designated areas to obtain a licence.

A full condition inspection was carried out in January 2017 by the council, which identified serious disrepair, a lack of modernisation and no proper heating system in place.

The authority claims that building materials, tools and personal possessions were strewn throughout the house, making movement and access difficult without the risk of injury or a fall. The property was also without a fire alarm, despite many combustible materials being littered around. Combustible materials were stacked against rear entrance doors, compromising escape in the event of a fire.

At the time of the inspection the property was occupied by a single adult male who was known to have ill health and limited mobility.

The council served Improvement Notices on Searle in June 2017 which required remedial works to be completed by August 2017.

Searle exercised his right of appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal in June 2017 and a date set for a hearing was scheduled for September 2017. At the hearing, the RPT upheld the Improvement notices but varied the date for compliance to January 9 2019.

The court heard that Searle had failed to comply with the Improvement Notices by the revised date set by the RPT.

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    Would love to come to the defense of a landlord, - but really struggling to find one - It would be useful to know whether he pleaded guilty, were there any mitigating factors, or did he just put his hands up to it eventually ( albeit when push came to shove )

  • S l
    • S l
    • 06 February 2019 16:40 PM

    i would like to point out that i had experience when council knew where my actual address is but they posted their letter to an old address eventhough i had called them previously to update my address. even though i had also specifically told the hmo officer not to email me as i dont check email and not often on it due to family commitment and renting, still they do that and claim they use it because i gave it to them. they ignored the proviso not to send email and intentionally post to wrong address, hence i never receive the notice or letter and they also use intimidating tactics as turn up on day of inspection and shove a letter to us told us to sign admit liability so they wont take us to court. unfortunately, my husband was terrified and sign and therefore next time, he would be definitely hauled to court for whatever they wanted to whilst i wrote to complain due to intimidation and also our defence that the tenant subletting was not our fault and not to our knowledge and they drop it against me but not to my husband. there are many ways the hmo office can abuse their power and also when we were told require hmo on 2 story property when it wasnt required and told to get rid of a tenant due to room size despite it only came into force recently and not at that time causing me lossess and dispute with other tenants

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