A landlord has been successfully prosecuted by St Helen’s Council after exposing his tenants to ‘miserable living conditions’.
Darshan Sidhu, 55, of Walsall, pleaded guilty by post at Liverpool, Knowsley and St Helens Magistrates’ Court failing to comply with Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) regulations.
The property in question was found to have fire escapes that were obstructed and poorly maintained, a breach of Regulation 4 (1) of the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006, and section 234 of the Housing Act 2004. Under the Housing Act 2004, landlords are required to be in possession of a HMO licence if their properties have three or more stories or if five or more tenants who live there comprise more than one household and share bathroom facilities.
The court was told by the District Judge that the council could not have been clearer in informing Sidhu of what work was required for him to carry out in the HMO. The judge also described living conditions in the property as ‘miserable’, arguing that in contrast to the case at hand, landlords should be doing everything they could in order to make properties habitable.
It was also emphasised that this was a commercial enterprise, with Sidhu likely to have made considerable profit on the HMO. The offence was therefore categorised as one of high culpability, given the commercial profit gained, and one of high risk, due to the obstructions to the fire escape.
The landlord was ordered to pay a total of £5,032 which included a fine, costs and victim surcharge.
St Helens Council’s Strategic Director of People Services, Mike Wyatt, said: ‘The majority of St Helens landlords are responsible and provide good quality and safe accommodation. Unfortunately, as in this case, not all landlords follow their example and the accommodation they provide is extremely poor and hazardous to the health and wellbeing of tenants. The council enforces the law to make sure tenant’s health and safety welfare is protected, and will take formal action against landlords who don’t comply. Our officers work closely with Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, landlords and property managers to continually improve standards and explain the risks of renting properties which are below standard. “I would encourage landlords to contact the council to seek any advice and ensure compliance with legal requirements.’