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Landlord handed two-year ban and £41k bill for putting tenants’ lives at risk

A man who rented out rooms above a town centre bar has been banned from being a landlord after putting the lives of his tenants at risk.

Dean Dunkley, 41, of Dunchurch Road in Rugby, has also been ordered to pay more than £41,000 in legal costs by the magistrates after he was found guilty of a number of offences.

The prosecution was brought by Rugby Borough Council after several inspections of the property by the council’s housing enforcement team revealed a host of safety breaches, including faulty fire doors, broken electric sockets, holes in windows and a fridge obstructing an emergency exit, which Dunkley failed to address, despite repeated warnings.

Other issues included a communal kitchen with no fire detection, broken emergency lighting and a WC with no door.

The landlord, who refused to cooperate with the council’s investigation by simply declining to confirm who was responsible for managing the rental property, also failed to attend an interview under caution with the council, and did not provide gas and electricity safety certificates, as well as a fire detection alarm certificate, for the property.

Magistrates at Nuneaton Justice Centre heard how 15 tenants had occupied the property’s ten bedrooms at the time of the inspection, and Dunkley was collecting an estimated £820 a week in rent.

The 41-year-old was found guilty of all 19 charges and was fined a total of £39,000 - including £8,000 fines for operating a HMO without a licence and obstructing the council’s investigation.

He was also ordered to pay £2,264 costs and a £170 victim surcharge.

Magistrates also granted the council’s application to issue Dunkley with a Criminal Behaviour Order, which bans him from being involved in letting or managing a residential property in the borough until May 2019.

In addition, the Criminal Behaviour Order states Dunkley must secure permission from the council before appointing an agent to let or manage a residential property on his behalf.

Following the hearing, Sean Lawson, Rugby Borough Council’s head of environment and public realm, told the press: “We’re happy to work with landlords to explain the legislation surrounding HMOs and offer advice on work which needs to be carried out in order for a property to meet safety standards.

“But our priority has to be the safety of tenants and, when a landlord shows complete contempt for the law, we have no hesitation in taking the case to court.

“The severity of the fines imposed by magistrates in this case, together with the issuing of a Criminal Behaviour Order, shows no landlord can afford to cut corners when it comes to ensuring the safety of tenants.”

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