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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Hitchin landlord fined for not providing heating

A landlord from Hitchin, Hertfordshire has been ordered to pay a fine of £1,344.57 by Stevenage Magistrates Court last week for leaving tenants without heating.

Jane Cleverly pleaded guilty to not taking adequate steps to provide tenants who lived at a property in Heathfield Road, Hitchin with a fixed heating system.

Her tenants who were left in the cold included a young couple who were renting their first home and a woman who was trying to recuperate after having surgery. Cleverly cited ‘financial difficulty’ as the reason for her negligence.

She was served with an Improvement Notice under section 11 of The Housing Act 2004 to require the works to be carried out. After failing to complete the works in the required timeframe, Cleverly was later prosecuted and fined by North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC).

Stevenage Magistrates imposed a fine of £500 and ordered her to pay further costs of a £50 Victim Surcharge and £794.57 towards the council‘s legal fees.

Cllr Bernard Lovewell, NHDC’s portfolio holder for housing and environmental health said: "Landlords have a responsibility to keep their properties safe and free from health hazards and tenants have a right to live in a property that is safe and in a good state of repair.

"We hope this prosecution sends a clear message to private landlords in North Hertfordshire – that the council will use enforcement powers whenever necessary to ensure the welfare and safety of our residents."

  • Jon  Tarrey

    And another one. Where are all those holier-than-thou landlords who insist it's always the fault of the beer-swilling, fag-smoking, Sky-watching tenants? Care to defend this?

  • Richard White

    Jon, there are a couple of million Landlords in the UK. Surely it comes a no surprise that events like this occur?

    While most people would agree that it shouldn't happen, it's not exactly the St Valentine's Day massacre is it?

  • Jon  Tarrey

    I agree, incidents like this aren't representative of landlords as a whole. I know a few myself and they're good sorts. And it's almost certainly true that there are many more good landlords than bad ones. But it would be sticking one's head in the sand to suggest that there isn't a major problem in this country with rogue landlords. A minority, perhaps, but a significant, active minority.

    Plus, the main crux of my comment was a dig at the posters on a similar article the other day who were trying to pin all of the world's troubles on the feckless tenants they'd apparently encountered.

  • Richard White

    Sure, there is good and bad on both sides, but I don't think the issue of feckless tenants can be overstated. There are legions of them - aided and abetted in many cases by the local authority (who then wonder, in typically gormless, bemused manner, why no landlords will entertain housing benefit tenants).

    Legislation, generally, is tilted in favour of the tenant and being a landlord is not easy. Far too many tenants see the landlord as sort of subservient manservant who must be on call 24 hours a day to, for example, change a lightbulb. Having been in and around this business for many years, this is no exaggeration. A culture of entitlement exists that often poisons the relationship.

    The best tenants, almost always, are people who have owned their own home and may be, relocating or checking an area before buying and wish to rent first. They show a respect many career tenants do not and accept that in day to day life, minor maintenance issues occur and that expecting the world to stop while it is done is neither sensible nor practical. I am clearly not talking about tenants who have been left with unresolved and serious maintenance issues here; this should obviously never happen.

    If all tenants were great, agents would not exist. As I said, I have no axe to grind, but I do tire of hearing the old socialist clichés about landlords, which in many cases is not fair.

    Major landlord problem in this country? I think we probably have one of the soundest markets in the world.

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    Jon... You will note there was consequences for the actions of this landlord, and quite rightly so. In fact, it was not severe enough IMO. Can we point to the consequences of a bad tenant? A tenant that does not pay rent or wrecks a property? Probably not, in my experience its just not worth it and only costs more money to pursue through our toothless over sympathetic ineffective court system. Meanwhile a tenant can roll from one tenancy to another with little to no consequences.

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