A buy-to-let landlord who was originally fined £31,499 by Coventry City Council for breaches of the Housing Act 2004 has had his penalty reduced by almost 90%.
Tan Sandhu was initially fined £31,499 by Coventry City Council for breaches of the Housing Act 2004, but this was cut to £24,649 before being appealed in the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) and reduced to £3,300.
Sandhu converted a semi-detached house into an HMO on Walsall Street, Coventry, CV4, but an inspection by the city council revealed four breaches, including an insecure rear door, the removal of a smoke/heat detector in the kitchen and no fire blanket, the need for keys to get out of individual rooms, and no display of the contact details of the property manager.
The council issued the landlord notice of the issues on 20th November 2018, but four months later, it found that most of the breaches had yet to be rectified, leaving the local authority with little alternative but to take action.
The council opted to impose a penalty of £2,100 in relation to the missing manager’s details notice and £29.399 in relation to breaches under regulation 4 (duty to take safety measures). A total of £31,499, but this was later cut to £24,649 after the landlord challenged the charges.
But the landlord appealed based on the grounds of excessive charges, not in line with the council’s own policies, or government guidelines, and successfully managed to have the fine reduced to £3,300.
Phil Turtle, compliance consultant with Landlord Licensing and Defence Ltd, commented: “Whilst we cannot condone a landlord not knowing and failing to comply with the HMO Management Regulations, this case is a clear example of a council misapplying the legislation for their own purposes.
“Coventry City Council had originally tried to extract £31,499 from this landlord when in fact, as the Tribunal determined, they were only entitled to fine the landlord a total of £3,300. An attempted over-charge of £28,199.
“Whilst there is no actual proof of causality in this case, it is however interesting that whereas Court Fines go to central government, Councils get to keep these landlord fines as an income stream which may affect their objectivity.”