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Five-figure fine after flat was let out despite Prohibition Order

A buy to let investor has received a hefty fine “for endangering the lives of his tenants by failing to meet the most basic of health and safety standards” according to a local authority.

Officers from Stevenage council inspected the investor’s property following complaints from the tenants. The property is a maisonette above shops which had been converted into two separate flats. 

The officers found that the standard of conversion works were poor and that there were fire risks and excess cold, amounting to Category 1 hazards under the Housing Act 2004.

The building also lacked an adequate fire detection and alarm system and there were no fire doors. There was also evidence of electrical faults and the single-glazed windows to the flats were in serious disrepair with rotting frames.

In February 2018 the council issued a Prohibition Order under the Housing Act 2004, prohibiting the occupation of the top floor flat until specified remedial works had been completed.

Environmental Health Officers carried out further inspections of the premises in July and November last year when it was found that the top floor flat had been rented out to new tenants in contravention of the Prohibition Order, and that serious fire safety hazards remained in the property.

As a result the owner, John Kirbyshire, was prosecuted under Section 32 of the Housing Act 2004, for two offences of contravening the Prohibition Order.

He was found guilty in his absence at a hearing in St. Albans Magistrates’ Court and received a total fine of £14,000 and was ordered to pay the council’s legal costs of £2,845.50 and a victim surcharge of £120.

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