Landlord hit with fine for placing family in ‘unfit for purpose’ house

A landlord has been hit with an £11,000 fine for housing a family of four in an unlicensed property which was in such poor condition it had to be shut down.

The house on Webster Road in Wavertree had a hole in the kitchen ceiling which meant rain came into the house, no lock on the back door, broken kitchen units and missing smoke alarms.

It first came to the attention of Liverpool City Council in November 2017, but despite clear reminders of the requirements of the city’s mandatory Landlord Licensing scheme and the consequences of failing to act, Imperial Property Services Limited made no attempt to assist the local authority. It did not attend either the initial or subsequent sentencing hearings.

At the initial hearing, District Judge Wendy Lloyd found the company guilty in their absence at Liverpool Magistrates Court. She commented that the property was “clearly unfit for purpose” and the fact that there were two young children living in the property at the time was a “serious concern”. She added that it was clear that the company was trying to “stay under the radar” by failing to license their property.

During the sentencing hearing on 7 February 2019, District Judge Andrew Shaw fined Imperial Property Services Limited £10,000, costs of £826 and a victim surcharge of £180, describing it as a “very bad case”.

The property has since been the subject of a Prohibition Order, meaning that the council deems it to be uninhabitable and unsafe.

Liverpool’s Landlord Licensing scheme was introduced in 2015 with the aim of driving up standards in the private rented sector and providing reassurance for tenants.

More than 48,500 licences have been granted to the owners of privately rented properties and 20,000 compliance checks have been carried out. Around 70 percent of properties inspected had issues that needed tackling, such as health and safety hazards including electrical and heating problems.

The local authority has issued over 2,000 legal notices, around 90 fixed penalty notices and successfully prosecuted more than 150 landlords.

In addition, 11 cases have been brought for health and safety and action taken against 29 unlicensed HMOs (Houses of Multiple Occupation).

Nationally, figures show that Liverpool alone is responsible for 389% of the 460% national rise in landlord prosecutions between 2012 and 2018.

The council will shortly start a consultation over continuing its Landlord Licensing scheme from 2020-2025.

Deputy Mayor and Cabinet member for housing, Cllr Lynnie Hinnigan, said: “This is a shocking case of a landlord who has housed a family in appalling conditions and flagrantly disregarded the law.

“It is absolutely shameful that this company believes it is acceptable to rent out a property which is in this condition, placing a young family in an unsafe environment not fit for human habitation.

“This case demonstrates clearly the value of our Landlord Licensing scheme in bringing to book those who are not providing decent quality homes in the private rented sector.”

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