Landlord ordered to pay £8,000 for putting tenants at risk

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By poppy_smith | Thursday, November 15, 2012, 18:38

A landlord has been ordered to pay fines and costs of £8074.60 for putting tenants at risk by failing to comply with fire regulations for a house in multiple occupation (HMO) in a prosecution by Camden Council.

Catherine Boyle (59) of Iverson Rd, London NW6, was found guilty of putting her tenants at risk at Highbury Magistrates Court on Tuesday 6 Nov.  Ms Boyle was found guilty for failing to carry out works specified in an Improvement Notice and four breaches of fire-related HMO regulations. She was also found to be in breach of her HMO licence by providing her tenants with non-fire retardant furniture.

Ms Boyle is believed to be the first residential landlord in the UK to have been served with an ASBO. The ASBO was awarded by Highbury Magistrates Court on 19 January 2011 for a period of two years. Ms Boyle is prohibited from causing harassment, alarm or distress to her tenants, entering their rooms without consent, and cutting off their gas and electricity supply. 

The Improvement Notice served on 14 April 2011 required Ms Boyle to carry out extensive works to deal with serious hazards in relation to excess cold, entry by intruders, damp, fire, food safety, and falls.  The work was required to have taken place by 13 November 2011 but when Camden's inspectors visited on 10 January 2012 the work had not been completed. 

Ms Boyle was given further time to comply but a visit on 15 May showed that the fire detection and alarm system was not connected to a power supply, fire doors were inadequate and furniture was still non fire-retardant. The HMO had poor thermal efficiency because there was a lack of insulation to the roof and walls and the single glazed windows were in a terrible state of repair allowing for draughts.

Highbury Magistrates were concerned about the serious offences which put tenants at risk, fining Ms Boyle £3,600, a victim support contribution of £15 and the Council's costs of £4459.60.  She was required to pay the amount within four months and was reminded that the works were still outstanding putting her at risk of a further prosecution by Camden Council.

Camden's cabinet member for housing, Councillor Julian Fulbrook, said:

"Living in a cold damp home has a negative impact on people's health including increased risk of hypothermia, respiratory illness, heart attack and strokes, underweight infants, social isolation and financial stress. In 2010/11 it was estimated excess winter deaths nationally were 25,700.

"We inspect all our HMOs regularly to make sure they comply with all health and safety regulations so that tenants are safe in their homes.  In the most serious cases we have the power to revoke an HMO licence and take over the running of the properties ourselves."



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