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Rogue landlord fined almost £60,000 for putting vulnerable bedsit tenants at risk

A rogue landlord has been fined £55,000 and ordered to pay court costs of £2,989.67 as well as a victim surcharge of £170 after putting vulnerable bedsit tenants at risk.

Heather Jackson, 55, allowed tenants to occupy bedsits in Southport, despite the fact that the building had leaking roof and faulty fire alarms.     

Jackson, who acquired the property in 2013, created 16 bedsits in total.


But when council inspectors visited the property with police in December last year they discovered that Jackson did not have a license for such housing. She also failed to provide evidence of gas safety records.

Council inspectors found the fire alarms had been deactivated, and escape routes were blocked, a fire exit corridor had been converted into a makeshift kitchen, while a fire door had been locked shut. 

Jackson pleaded guilty to 12 housing standards offences at South Sefton magistrates court.

A spokesman for Sefton Council said: “HMO legislation is put in place to help protect tenants and also serves to ensure landlords comply with all rules and regulations.

“As seen today, this was clearly not the case and we welcome the outcome at court and the substantial fines imposed.

“We want to send a clear message to the small number of landlords who compromise the safety of their tenants that this is not acceptable and can end up in a court case.

“As proved today, large fines will be imposed by the courts and we will always act to protect our residents.”

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    • D G
    • 24 June 2019 10:34 AM

    I'm not saying Heather was a saint however, "Council inspectors found the fire alarms had been deactivated (who by?), and escape routes were blocked (who by?), a fire exit corridor had been converted into a makeshift kitchen (who by?), while a fire door had been locked shut (who by)"

  • Andrew McCausland

    Dear DG, it doesn't matter who by. The LL was running an unlicensed HMO. Even if she did bother to get the licenses she still needs to carry out periodic checks that would have identified these issues. No-one likes to see good LL penalised by overbearing legislation but, in this case, she has only herself to blame.

  • icon
    • 24 June 2019 11:13 AM

    First thing I would have done if I was Heather would be to approach the Council and request their informed opinion about proposed changes and the ramifications of such.
    Surely any responsible LL would have done this!?
    Looking after money is the MOST important thing for a LL; get it wrong and you tend to find money is removed from you!!
    I wouldn't do a single thing to any property I owned until I had checked with the Council with them ideally attending to inspect the existing property.
    PD is nothing.
    BC is still required!!
    It is no wonder the PTB have downers on LL when this idiot LL has so blatantly games the system.
    The quicker her and her ilk are prevented from being LL the better for good LL.

  • icon

    I have never got involved with bed sits however a friend does, he visits once a week, fire doors are always wedged open, which he then closes, he clears up the rubbish and makes sure the bins are put out to be emptied, talk about having to wipe the backsides of these types of tenants.

    • 24 June 2019 16:24 PM

    The problem is that with sorts of operations it only needs the Council to inspect and the LL could be facing massive fines even though everything was fine the day before when the LL inspected.
    To my mind simply not worth the risk.
    It would only work with an onsite caretaker.
    Perhaps the LL offers the job to one of the occupants!?

  • icon

    You can have all the Periodic Inspection you like, you are still powerless to do anything, if you go to the Council that’s if can get to see them which is almost impossible & there pretend phones those days / obsolete, they will target you. Anyway the Council will side with the Tenant & Tenant will claim harassment because you visited regularly. There is no way that LL will be allowed to get any backing. DG is right I have it all the time fire alarm pulled from ceilings. Doors jammed open etc. Everything the Tenant does wrong is LL’s fault and he gets fined, do you still not know we have a new legal system where by it’s the victim that gets the penalty.

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    • 24 June 2019 17:23 PM

    Surely this type of letting is becoming a zero sum game!?
    The risks of being hit with massive fines because of the always blameless tenant wreaking destruction which the Council then finds is just too much to risk.
    I believe the days of HMO style lettings for the lower orders are simply not viable with the risks that are entailed
    High-end HMO surely must usually work.
    But the low-end ones are just a massive fine risk to the LL profitability.
    On this basis low-end HMO etc make little economic sense.
    It is almost a form of 'clawback' via fines!
    It is for all these reasons and more I avoided any type of HMO.
    So glad I did!!
    LL of these low-end HMO would be better off selling up or converting to flats or family house.
    We then hear that selective licensing etc is to cost one LL in Newcastle at least £3000 per property of his 18 property portfolio not including I think any furbishment costs the Council requires.
    Bet none of the properties are EPC C status..........only 11 years to go I believe before all rental property has to be C status.
    If I was this LL I would be selling up and invest in areas unlikely to ever attract Selective Licensing.
    Yes it will cost more to invest but has to be cheaper in the long run than investing in crap areas which will inevitably attract more bonkers Council SL schemes

  • icon

    2 or 3 months Inspection and if not as stated in tenancy and inventory call back in 7 days and if still the same sort out the issue and bill them. Photograph everything and take it by hand and give and get signed for by stupid clueless council bod. Hound and harass council telling them what you are doing and you demand their support going up their line until an intelligent one responds.


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