Thursday, 16 August 2012

More prosecutions of rogue landlords - shortly to be on @meridiantonight

I was interviewed by ITV meridian yesterday for a story they will be running shortly on private landlords.  Unfortunately it's not about the positive service that good landlords provide but about two more cases of unsafe accommodation.  I was asked about the fact that it cost one of the landlords £4000 for works that should have been a few hundred pounds.  I pointed out that in most cases when the environmental health team require works to be done sensible landlords will do it and keep costs low as well as avoiding the publicity of a prosecution.   I said that we don't want to prosecute landlords but good landlords expect us to provide a level playing field, and our residents deserve to live in safe accommodation.  I don't know how it will be reported/cut but they also interviewed one of the tenants involved as well as the landlord so they have done their homework!

Original press release below:
Reading Borough Council has sent out another strong message to rogue landlords across the Borough that poorly kept and hazardous rented accommodations will not be tolerated, after two landlords were prosecuted thanks to the work of the Council’s Environmental Health Team.

Mr Emil Watson rented out 22 Gloucester Road to a family who had suffered constant problems with the drains, which led to a problem with the toilets at the property. The family also had to endure an extensive period with no hot-water and heating after the gas boiler had broken down. Despite being served with legal notices requiring the work to be carried out, Mr Watson failed to do so and the Council stepped in and carried out the works.

At a hearing on 30th July, at Reading Magistrates Court which Mr Watson failed to attend, District Judge Lynne Matthews fined Mr. Watson £1000 in respect of each of the two offences and ordered costs of £1718.00 to be paid.

The Environmental Health Team also managed to successfully prosecute Mr & Mrs. Heer, of 1 Devon Avenue, Slough, Berkshire, who rented 23 Lincoln Road, Reading. Due to a complaint, the Heer’s property was inspected and the landlords were provided with information and advice on how to improve their property. When inadequate progress was made with works, an Improvement notice was served under section 11 & 12 of the Housing Act 2004 on the 28th of July 2011. The Notice required that work be carried out to repair faulty electrical wiring to light fittings in the kitchen and provide ventilation to the rear bedroom. The notice also required work to be carried out on a window which had been nailed shut in the bedroom leaving the room without any ventilation; the gas boiler was also located in this room.
The landlords failed to comply with the improvement notice and pleaded guilty at a hearing on 3rd August at Reading Magistrates Court. Each landlord was fined £650 for each offence and the Council were awarded £768.50 in costs. In total the defendants were required to pay £4137.

Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Neighbourhood and Housing, Rachel Eden, said: "As well as ensuring a level playing field for good landlords these prosecutions send out a strong message to tenants and neighbours that Reading council remains committed to ensuring that those living in the private rented sector can expect a decent place to live. The environmental health team have again shown commitment and determination in ensuring the standard of accommodation in these properties meets a minimum standard of safety and decency." 

Notes to editor

A number of different addresses were reported for Mr Watson during the course of the investigation. He was initially registered at 20 Threadgold Street Nottinghill London and later at 30 Nash close, Earley, Reading.
Pictures are available on request.