A court ruling against a Fife landlord could have significant implications for other rogue landlord cases in Scotland, setting a precedent for stiffer penalties.
Mohammed Murtaza, from Kirkcaldy, was issued the first ever disqualification order granted by a Scottish court earlier this year. He was found guilty at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court of breaching the Antisocial Behaviour (Scotland) Act 2004, and the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 by continuing to act as a landlord after his registration was refused. He was subsequently fined a total of £500, and was banned from acting as a private landlord for a further 12 months.
Head of the commercial property department at Tayside-based solicitors Miller Hendry, Alistair Duncan, said that the ramifications from the Fife case would have a knock-on effect elsewhere in Scotland. He explained: ‘This case sends out a clear message to private landlords that councils and their partner agencies will take all appropriate action to protect tenants and improve property standards in the private sector. Landlords who flout the law and fail to comply with their legal obligations will now face court action and potentially hefty fines.’
The case in question was not Murtaza’s first conviction. He had previously been convicted at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court in November 2014 after failing to comply with his private landlord duties under the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004. He was also found to be in breach of Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
Murtaza was issued with six convictions for the incidents and was fined £540. As a result of the aforementioned convictions he was refused entry on to Fife’s landlord register in June 2015. This therefore rendered it a criminal offence for him to rent out any residential property in Fife, a ruling he broke by continuing to act as a private landlord.
Fife Council’s head of housing, John Mills, commented: ‘A significant proportion of private landlords are of good character and comply with the law, however, there are some who act unlawfully. The outcome of this particular case sends a clear message to private landlords in Fife that the council will continue to take all appropriate action to protect tenants and improve property standards in the private sector.’