A landlord has been fined £24,750 and told to repay his tenants almost £47,000 in rent.
In December 2018, Preston council responded to a tenant's complaint about the living conditions at a student HMO in the town.
As a result of an inspection, the owner and landlord of the property, - Michael Gibbons, trading as Student Accommodation Preston - was served an Improvement Notice requiring repairs to be completed no later than February 17 2019.
Gibbons was also operating this property without holding the necessary HMO licence.
A council statement says that despite its attempts to work with Gibbons to improve a number of student houses in Preston, he did not engage and in June 2019 a decision was made to refuse his belated HMO licence applications.
In September 2019 he was fined for failing to carry out improvements at one particular property and for failing to apply for an HMO licence: the fine for each offence was £12,375.
Gibbons appealed these actions at the First Tier Tribunal - due to the pandemic the hearing of the appeals was delayed until October 2020 when the Tribunal threw out the appeal and confirmed the fines.
As these fines remain unpaid, the council is now in the process of enforcing them through the courts.
At a further appeal by Gibbons on the decision of the council that he was not a fit and proper person to run licensed HMOs, in April 2021 the First Tier Tribunal dismissed his appeal, preventing him from operating any licensed HMO properties in Preston.
The council has now adding Gibbons’ name to the rogue landlord list, allowing all local authorities in England to become aware of his past conduct.
During this investigation, a total of 13 former tenants have brought rent repayment applications before the First Tier Tribunal in respect of Gibbons' failings - these have now resulted in an order to pay back rent to those tenants, an amount totalling £46,908.
A council spokeswoman says: “Whilst most landlords are responsible and provide good accommodation, our dedicated and conscientious team of officers…work hard to ensure the residents of Preston are protected from poor landlords such as Mr Gibbons, and that justice is served.”
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