Landlord loses appeal against £17,000 fine for failing to provide 'safe, secure and clean' housing
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Local Government
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A landlord who was given a £17,000 fine for letting out a filthy and badly managed house with minimal fire protection has had his appeal against the sentence rejected by a judge.
Ashfaq Spaul's rented property in Himley Road, Tooting, housed nine tenants in six bedrooms despite having a lack of fire detection, overflowing bins, a broken window on the ground floor and disrepair throughout communal areas including broken taps, shelves and tiles.
Wandsworth Council launched a successful prosecution against Mr Spaul for various offences under the Housing Act, which he appealed - but a judge at Kingston Crown Court dismissed his argument.
Problems at his property began back in 2009 when a tenant reported issues with the house. Council officers arranged an inspection, which uncovered a raft of issues at the two-storey property, including no fire fighting equipment and a limited automatic fire detection system - potentially putting the tenants at risk in the event of a fire.
Mr Spaul and his company AA Property Construction Services Ltd were served with improvement notices and ordered to provide bins, repair the ground floor front room window, which had been left unrepaired after a burglary, and install a carbon dioxide extinguisher and fire blanket in the kitchen. Environmental health practitioners (EHPs) also requested to see valid safety certificates and reports.
However, Mr Spaul ignored the notices and consistently failed to comply with multiple occupancy regulations, including not giving tenants his contact details.
Mr Spaul and AA Property Construction Services Ltd - responsible for an estimated 60 to 70 properties - were each found guilty at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court of seven offences under the Housing Act relating to the Himley Road property.
They were fined £1,000 each for failure to comply with an improvement notice, £1,000 each for failure to provide a copy of a current gas safety certificate and £1,000 each for each of five housing management breaches.
Having been ordered to pay fines totalling £17,030, Mr Spaul subsequently appealed the sentence imposed - but was ordered to pay the full amount by a judge at Kingston Crown Court on November 30.
Councillor Paul Ellis, the Wandsworth's cabinet member for housing, said: "The council is committed to doing everything possible to ensure residents enjoy a good quality of life.
"If our officers believe tenants in the private sector are being exploited by landlords who knowingly let out dank, dirty and overcrowded accommodation, they will take action against them.
"It is only right that the council speaks up for tenants who find themselves stuck in squalor, and at risk of health problems and possible physical harm as a result - particularly because for some English may not be their first language.
"This was a shocking example of a landlord repeatedly failing to provide safe, secure and clean housing for tenants.
"Our EHPs worked tirelessly to ensure he did not go unpunished and I hope this will be a warning to any other landlords who have knowingly let standards slip that we will intervene if called upon by residents."