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Husband-and-wife landlords let HMO unfit for human habitation

Husband-and-wife landlords Robin and Susan Kirstein have been landed with a massive fine for letting a home that was deemed by a local council to be unfit for human habitation.  

The couple, from Greenford in London, were sentenced at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court on after each admitting a string of offences contravening the Housing Act and the Building Act.

The court heard the property failed to meet many basic safety requirements and was littered with hazards. Hillingdon council had served notice on the pair to remedy the breaches - however, they ignored warnings, despite visits from council inspectors.


The state of the building was so bad, a judge described it as 'not fit for human habitation'.

Robin Kirstein had admitted 13 offences at a hearing back in April 2021 including poor management of the property, lack of adequate waste facilities, lack of fire precautions and failure to provide information.

Susan Kirstein admitted 17 offences last July including, poor management of the property, lack of adequate waste facilities, lack of fire precautions, failure to provide information, failure to carry out works to the property and failure to carry out drainage works to ensure sanitary conditions.

The court - sitting earlier this month - heard the property first came to the attention of the council following an inspection in July 2020. A leaking soil pipe was causing raw sewage to pool outside the front of the home, which in turn was causing outbreaks of flies inside the property and maggots outside the front door.

The property is a four-storey building with a shop on the ground floor and is used as an HMO. The upper floors contained three flats, one of those split across the upper two floors.

The court was told the inspection revealed some areas of the building had no lighting, no heating, several of the doors had no door handles, there were un-openable windows, mould, stairs with no handrails and broken smoke alarms.

A follow-up inspection in November 2020 showed the situation has not changed, and in fact had possibly worsened. A further inspection in March 2021 revealed that improvement notices served by the council requiring the multitude of hazards to be fixed, had not been complied with, despite having a deadline of January 1 last year. 

A statement from the council says its officers had tried to engage with the landlords over several visits to the property. The landlords were asked to provide copies of their lease, tenancy agreements and details of the management arrangements for the property. Further requests were also made for gas and electrical certificates. 

However the court heard the Kirsteins refused to provide this information.

At the hearing the pair were sentenced to a fine of £17,000 and ordered to pay Hillingdon council's prosecution costs of over £10,000.


A council spokesperson says: "This couple showed scant regard for the welfare of tenants who should quite rightly have an expectation of living somewhere that meets decent standards.

"This property not only fell well below that mark but was riddled with hazards and dangers that could have proved disastrous.

"This sentencing serves as a warning to any rogue landlords that we'll take tough measures to ensure homes in our borough are safe and suitable for the tenants."

At the sentencing hearing, District Judge Wright described the pair as 'in way over their heads' and having 'turned a blind eye to their responsibilities' in part due to their poor financial management.

In reference to the leaking sewage, the judge added: "You had a responsibility not to leave tenants in the property that wasn't fit for human habitation."

Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

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    Wish these amateurs would just leave well alone. All they do is give councils and the Government more ammo to attack good landlords with.

  • George Dawes

    ‘ The court was told the inspection revealed some areas of the building had no lighting, no heating, several of the doors had no door handles, there were un-openable windows, mould, stairs with no handrails and broken smoke alarms.’

    Good grief , utterly disgraceful

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    Bet it wasn't handed over to tenants like that! No one ever blames bad tenants for the damage they do, which is then paid for by the majority of decent tenants in higher rents.

    Andrew Adnell

    You can't "bet" on what you don't know. Even if that might have been the case but the landlords were clearly given enough opportunity to rectify those hazardous defects Also, nothing stopped them from evicting the tenants if they were culpable. Let's not defend the indefensible. Two potential wrongs don't make a right.

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    They were given the chance to rectify the problems, so why didn't they ?

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    If the house was in that state before the tenants moved in, well, why did they rent it and just not walk away ??? Sounds suspect to me, more as though the tenants trashed it. Nobody forced them to rent a dump presumably.


    Maybe the tenants did trash it, or maybe they are the kind of tenants that have to rent those kind of places because no other landlord will touch them, no good renting rubbish places and no good renting to rubbish tenants, good properties to good tenants there is no other way, leave rubbish tenants to the rubbish social landlords they deserve each other

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    There has to be more to this story. They must be among the roughest Tenants out there. Door handle missing why would that be ? did LL come in and pinch them, broken fire alarms I think them self-damaging fire alarms should be banned. The water damage to the ceiling appears to be from an upstairs bathroom but we are not told the cause. The drainage problems could well be miss use initially and then build up. I am acutely aware of such misuse when they pour oil, fat, rice, spaghetti etc, down the drains. How on Earth could the handrail be missing the bannister’s don’t walk off but I have known Tenants to break them off and thought it was funny, their LL wasn’t amused and ended up in a big fight with the Tenant taken to hospital in Ambulance and LL taken away in a police van. This LL should have had all those Certificates and presented them promptly to Council when requested, can be very difficult to keep up with the annual ones they keep expiring so quickly & with Tenants changing about and so much other stuff to deal with all the time. He should have responded immediately or try to get someone in, not easy to get people to do things those days. The lawyers are out of control £10k for what how much an hour is that it’s ridiculous undermining justice system the defendants pleaded guilty can’t have been a difficult to get a conviction, if a builder charged that for a menial job he’d likely get Prison.

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    And the repairs still have not been done! I do wonder what goes through the minds of these housing officers. The tenants have had to live in these conditions for 2 years when the council could have easily carried out the repairs and charged the landlord.

    Instead they created themselves a load of work in prosecuting the landlord for no benefit to anyone. What an utterly pointless system.
    Jim Haliburton
    The HMO Daddy

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    Wouldn't be surprised if the council in question charged landlords for a license, part of the cost of which is for councils to inspect the property. In reality of course, if this council is anything like Newham, it will take 7+ years before they send some numb nut with a checklist to inspect it for 2 minutes. Why didn't the tenants go on rent strike if they were not responsible for this mysterious disintegration of the property and its dematerialising fixtures and fittings ?

  • Paul  Conway - Yuno CEO

    A well-run licensing scheme should be able to identify such poor property management and take timely steps towards improving conditions in such properties.

    The description of the state of the property suggests that it will take a lot more than £17k to repair the property to a level that gets it fit for habitation. If these Landlords couldn’t afford to look after the property before the £17k fine and the £10k legal bill, it’s highly unlikely they will be able to afford to bring the property up to standard now.

    In such situations, wouldn’t it be better for all involved if a ‘court-appointed manager' was put in control of the property, and the Landlord’s finances, to ensure that improvements are made?

    Obviously, it would be better not to get into this situation in the first place and work with a good licensing advisor like Yuno and then with a reputable company that can help you to make the necessary improvements like our sister company HMO Services, will keep you compliant from the start.


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