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 Council imposes record fine on landlord with 54 HMO breaches

A collapsing ceiling, filthy facilities, and an abandoned car are among the dangerous defects leading to a Banbury landlord facing a £20,000 bill. 

They were among dozens of breaches uncovered when Cherwell council’s housing team made unannounced inspections at two HMOs in Banbury. 

The landlord, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has a history of non-compliance with housing law and the council says they could face a banning order if they reoffend.


John Donaldson, Cherwell's lead councillor for housing, comments: “This is the highest financial penalty we have ever imposed on a landlord. It is not a decision we have taken lightly, and indeed it is quite extraordinary that officers found 54 breaches at just two properties.

“Over the last 20 years we have tried many informal and formal ways of trying to get this individual to bring their properties up to scratch. The sheer number of officer hours devoted to this is a big part of why the penalties now meted out have to be this severe.

“HMO management regulations impose strict duties upon landlords to keep their properties clean, safe and in good repair. While the vast majority of landlords are meeting those obligations, this is a very firm warning to any other rogue landlords out there that cutting corners will end up costing them in the end.”

The council claims the deficiencies were wide-ranging and “detrimental to the quality of life for both the occupants and neighbours.”

The gardens of both the properties were overgrown, with blocked drains and unsightly accumulations of household and construction waste.


At one of the properties a car was left unattended for four years in the face of repeated requests to remove it. Inside, a poorly designed shower was causing the windowsill to rot and ceiling below to collapse. At the other house, broken windows and defective fire doors were found.

The enforcement action was taken for offences under the Housing Act 2004 and the landlord has agreed to pay the penalties following a lengthy investigation and appeals process.

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    This kind of landlord gives us all a bad name. If he's given a record fine, why are we not allowed to know his (or her) name?

    At least this fine goes into the public purse, unlike the next door story.

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    • 20 October 2020 09:50 AM

    Should be 5 times that fine. He will feel no pain otherwise, and will do it again.


    Totally agree! The rogues who have made the setting up of Council departments to monitor the PRS should have to foot their entire costs.

    Why should decent tenants and landlords have to foot the bill to police these rogues?

    PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    No David, I couldn't agree with disproportionate fines, as Two wrongs don't make a right.
    But I am sure that landlord won't be able to fart without the council knowing about it ! He and his properties will be scrutinised from now on, I've no doubt.


    Surely the disproportionate fine is the costs incurred by decent landlords and tenants to pay for the Council departments, regulations, building alterations etc. now imposed in response to problems caused by the rogue minority?

    Scotland brought in mandatory HMO licences for all properties with more than2 unrelated adults around 20 years ago. The HMO licences cost over £1900 initially plus £953 every three years, plus mandatory mains operated smoke alarms, fire doors etc. costing £3000 plus per property along with annual PAT tests. This was in response to a double fatality in a fire in a basement flat, which is still not required to comply with the new regulations as it houses only two adults. Incidentally this landlord was jailed, but for perjury, not manslaughter and has been in trouble again recently - so much for close ongoing monitoring of known rogue landlords!

    These additional costs led to many large flats being occupied by only two adults, shortage of larger properties for rent and consequently higher rents.

    This is what I call disproportionate, not the fine imposed on rogue landlords.

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    • 20 October 2020 10:16 AM

    Sorry....But in this day and age, the only thing people understand is the power of the $$$$$.
    Gaol is no good for them, as a few months just allows them time to work another scam. If it was say 30 years then it might make sense.
    A mere £20,000 will be like a few pennies to people like him.
    He deserves to feel some pain. And the only pain he understands is his cash.

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    • 20 October 2020 10:17 AM

    He should also be made to live in the same squalor he made others pay for!!!!!!!!!!

  • Susanna Bora

    All the hefty crimes and headache has convinced me that there has to be an easier way to earn a living.
    I will sell 2 lovely portfolio in London for 900k or one for 450k interested? Councils welcome to buy to house homeless people on waiting lists any offers?

  • icon

    Well this LL is certainly getting some stick but I don't buy the full story by any means.
    (1)Blocked Drains who blocked them ? its always in my experience because of misuse otherwise they
    work perfectly well for 100 years.
    (2) Collapsed ceiling I have had that when the Tenant flooded the Bathroom, ceilings don't just fall
    (3) Filthy Facilities who made them filthy ? are they adults or is he running a nursery, soap & water is
    not expensive, we can't help the Tenants Lifestyle or Culture I know that one. I am sure it was
    clean when they moved-in or they wouldn't have taken it.
    (4) Abandoned Car I have had that to but couldn't touch it or get anyone to take it away without the
    log book. Council or police not interested when on private property.
    (5) Overgrown garden who's duty was it to keep the garden on the agreement or if LL had he access
    without being accused of harassment ?.
    (6) HM0's does impose a great deal of duty's on the LL but given no power to carry out the
    requirements only at the mercy of the Tenant & no power to require the tenant to do anything,
    he is even banned from the property, I had that my wife & I gave the 24 hours notice to visit
    property but the tenant stood in the doorway & said I don't permit you so we had to go home.
    (7) The council had plenty free time to keep visiting this property a pity they didn't bring a few drain
    rods with him, just make notes they call that work they don't know the meaning of the word.
    (8) Mr Donaldson didn't make his decision lightly, that a bit obvious as he is as I understand it a
    Beneficiary of the fine, had he take it lightly he might be getting a share of £5k instead of £20K
    and I think that's a lot of money, if a young a person had it, it would be a deposit on their Flat,
    anyone who thinks 20 grand is nothing must be very rich or lost their sense of value.


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