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  • Buy-to-Let

    Landlords behaving badly ... Getting heavily fined!

    92-year old tenant, Mrs Helen Bora, has called for absentee* landlords, to be forced to employ the services of a good property management companies after she was found to be living in a rodent-infested flat with a broken lavatory, broken windows and taps that could only be operated with a pair of pliers.

    Mrs Bora, a decorated World War II veteran, had lived in the flat in Bloomsbury for 12 years but her repeated complaints to her landlord, John Garvey, who lives in Ireland, were ignored.

    It was only when Mrs Bora phoned the Environmental Health Department at Camden Council about her lavatory, that inspectors took action and moved her to a new home.

    The landlord, Mr Garvey didn’t attend court and was fined £10,000 (GBP) in his absence for failing to comply with two improvement notices on the building and £3,364 (GBP) costs.

    * (landlords who buy investment property in a region of the UK but who live in another part of the country or even overseas)

    From: My Property Power Team blog.
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    (08-10-2012 03:27 PM)michael_freer Wrote:  It's covered on the BBC here too.

    A tenant could always do the repairs themselves having giving the landlord notice quotes to repair - and then offset the cost against rent due.

    However I suspect in this case the damage was so bad that this was not financially viable.

    I suppose also there may be cases where investment properties owners have died and relatives are unaware of assets.

    However, as landlords previously used capital growth and equity release to fund improvements, I suspect that there will be more of this problem arising.
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    An Eastbourne landlord has been fined £3,300 for poorly maintained property.

    Eastbourne Magistrates Court heard that Alle Sabboth, 33, of Durston in Northampton, rented out a property in Hydney Street to four tenants who shared a bathroom and kitchen.

    Following a complaint from one of the tenants, officers from Eastbourne Borough Council’s Private Housing Team carried out a series of inspections at the property.

    They found that the property was in a poor state of repair, generally very poorly kept and with significant defects including a broken front door, broken electrical switches and a staircase with no floor covering or handrail.

    Ms Sabboth admitted eight of the offences and two others were withdrawn. She told the court that she had originally rented out the whole property to a single tenant but had run out of money to repair the property after he failed to pay any rent. Subsequently, she converted it into a House in Multiple Occupation.

    The court also ordered Ms Sabboth to pay the council’s costs of £1,250.
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    Negligent landlord ordered to pay up under Proceeds of Crime Act

    A landlord has been ordered to pay £53,500 after being prosecuted for putting his tenants at risk. Of that money, £40,000 has been ordered to be paid under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

    At Norwich Magistrates Court, Joseph Howman pleaded guilty to nine offences under the Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006, and not meeting the standards required of a landlord in the Licence Conditions, breaching part 2 of Housing Act 2004.

    He was fined £5,000 plus £135 victim surcharge and £8,500 costs, plus £40,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

    Norwich City Council is the first local authority in the country to use the Proceeds of Crime Act against a landlord who failed to comply with HMO licence conditions.

    The court heard that the house in Unthank Road, Norwich, was let as ten bedsits with shared bathrooms.

    An inspection by council officers in November 2010 found that rooms had no heating, the main bathroom had no hot water, communal bathrooms were dirty, the fire doors were in poor condition with many not working, and there were electrical hazards, including hanging wires and defective lighting.

    Ellen Spencer, private sector housing officer, said: “The landlord risked the safety of tenants by cutting corners and refusing to make improvements.

    “We are pleased that the court recognised the serious nature of the offences and hope that this will send out a message that rogue landlords will not be tolerated in Norwich.”

    In a separate case, another landlord escaped jail despite the judge describing his fire safety as ‘the worst case’ she had ever seen.

    Preston Crown Court heard how Neal Gilligan’s appalling upkeep of his seven properties came to light when a fire broke out at one of the flats on Park Road, St Annes, Lancashire.

    The fire service found dozens of life-threatening safety breaches as a result. All seven properties had serious issues which the landlord repeatedly failed to rectify, the court heard.

    Fire alarms were switched off or damaged, extinguishers and emergency lighting were in poor condition and exits were blocked by obstructions, including a motorbike. Enforcement notices were served on all seven properties, but none were adequately complied with. Prohibition notices were also served on two of the properties, preventing the buildings from being used until work had been carried out, but these notices were also breached.

    Read the rest of the story >>> here.
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    Another one!

    Landlord lets out "hellhole" to pensioners

    A landlord has been fined £1,250 after two pensioners were discovered living in slum conditions.

    The shocking find was in Newham, the London council which is introducing England’s first blanket licensing scheme for all private rental properties on its patch.

    The fine was levied on Sukhbir Singh Birak, 37, of Ilford, Essex, who admitted at Thames Magistrates Court failing to comply with an improvement notice served on him under the Housing Act by Newham Council in July 2011. This related to his mid-terrace three-bedroom Victorian house on Chester Road in Forest Gate.

    Birak was also ordered to pay costs of £370 and a victim surcharge of £15.

Council housing inspectors found the elderly couple living in what they described as a ‘hell hole’.

    For over seven months the couple had put up with a deficient heating system, a broken window, collapsed ceilings in both the bedroom and kitchen, and an electric shower as the only source of hot water.

    Read the full story >>> here.
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    Need help/advice please. I am a landlord with a few properties (and apparently a very good landlord, so I am told by my tenants) - however, I have found myself in the position of being a tenant, because I am trying to sell my main residence. I am sharing an expensive property with two houses under one lease and first break will be in April 2013. We were misinformed about the facilities and mislead in that both properties had all the accoutrements. We have had continual problems with systems, heating, alarms, etc. We were not attended into the property and effectively dropped in the deep end of a very complex house - major high tech, £4million property. Early errors on their part/inventory professionals delayed services, No gate access info for 5 days, heating/boiler problems - a veritable nightmare. Begging for information bit by bit as we tried to get to grips with systems and responses from the managing agents that would make a politician proud.

    WHEN issues are informed, they are dealt with on a timely basis - no complaints. Our main complaint is that ALL of the problems we have had over a 2 mo period would NOT have occured had they 'readied the property' in the first instance. they are complying 'after the fact' (of the problems and issues - which have taken up massive amount of hours, days, frustration, stress on my part).

    I have contacted ARLA and the property ombudsman and fully aware of how to make a complaint but since they do comply with issues 'on a timely basis' - is there any redress?
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    (29-11-2012 05:57 PM)Gail_Davies Wrote:  Need help/advice please. I am a landlord with a few properties (and apparently a very good landlord, so I am told by my tenants) - however, I have found myself in the position of being a tenant, because I am trying to sell my main residence. I am sharing an expensive property with two houses under one lease and first break will be in April 2013. We were misinformed about the facilities and mislead in that both properties had all the accoutrements. We have had continual problems with systems, heating, alarms, etc. We were not attended into the property and effectively dropped in the deep end of a very complex house - major high tech, £4million property. Early errors on their part/inventory professionals delayed services, No gate access info for 5 days, heating/boiler problems - a veritable nightmare. Begging for information bit by bit as we tried to get to grips with systems and responses from the managing agents that would make a politician proud.

    WHEN issues are informed, they are dealt with on a timely basis - no complaints. Our main complaint is that ALL of the problems we have had over a 2 mo period would NOT have occured had they 'readied the property' in the first instance. they are complying 'after the fact' (of the problems and issues - which have taken up massive amount of hours, days, frustration, stress on my part).

    I have contacted ARLA and the property ombudsman and fully aware of how to make a complaint but since they do comply with issues 'on a timely basis' - is there any redress?

    Hi - it is difficult to be specific, without all the facts. You state that you were mislead. That would be misrepresentation for which the landlord would ultimately be liable for your loss.

    However, loss is financial and hard to quantity. If you've lost say 5 days use as a result, you would equate this to 5 days pro rata rent.

    The best way would be to put your complaint initially in writing to the agent seeking redress and then try to arrange a meeting. You tend to get a better result / outcome through face to face interaction.

    Often landlords are sympathetic - but and agent can be a barrier to that dialogue.
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    Thanks for your input Glenn as it is good to hear the views of a lettings agent on Gail's problems!

    The idea about a rent rebate for lost use is a good one.

    Having spoken to Gail off-line, it seems that the root of the matter is that the property was not "readied" for habitation. On moving in, she discovered all sorts of maintenance problems and struggled to get systems working. (I believe it had previously been vacant for a while ... ).

    The agent DID remedy all issues within a reasonable timeframe, but I think Gail believes that the property not being ready to inhabit has ruined her first 2 months of living there as she has had constant issues to resolve and has not been able to get the full use out of the property.

    What redress do tenants have in these instances?

    Most tenants check the property over during a viewing and then send a list of things they want done before they will sign the tenancy agreement and move in.

    I believe that Gail did this, but many problems only became apparent once she moved in.

    When an agent is instructed on a fully managed basis, what are their responsibilities in ensuring that the house is "ready to live in"? I thought the main thing was that any defects or problems were remedied within a reasonable time frame, which did happen in this case.
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    A landlord who endangered the lives of children by placing them at fire risk has been fined £23,000 with costs of £2,890.

    Mehmet Parlak, the owner of Watchacre Properties Ltd which let Markfield Lodge on Markfield Road, London N15, pleaded guilty at Highgate Magistrates Court to management failures and not licensing his properties.

    The court heard that a Haringey Council environmental health officer inspected Markfield Lodge in August and found 78 items of disrepair ranging from fire safety failures, security issues, damp and mould, filthy conditions, broken windows and lights not working.

    Source article >>> here.
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    Paul Allen, a Pastor, has been ordered to pay a fine of just under £22k after he was found guilty of 26 breaches of property rental housing regulations.

    As the landlord of properties in Hertford and Walkern, the landlord was taken to court by East Hertfordshire Council after breaking HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation) regulations.

    The Court deemed three rental properties under the control of Mr Allen to be in poor and dangerous condition, including damage to ceilings and staircases.

    Although pleading not guilty to all charges, Mr Allen was fined £400 for each offence, the sum of which totalled over £10,000. In addition, court costs and a victim surcharge took the final total close to £22,000.

    Cllr Linda Haysey (Con, Hertford Rural South), the executive member for health, housing and community support, commented: “Paul Allen had been given every opportunity to rectify these matters. He showed a dangerous disregard for the law and the safety of his tenants.”

    The county council’s cabinet member for community safety Cllr Richard Thake (Con, Knebworth and Codicote) said: “Landlords should be aware that we routinely check HMOs. Most fires start at night and if you are asleep and don’t have a working smoke alarm to wake you up, your chances of escaping unharmed are low.”

    Read the full story >>> here.
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