Talgarth Road Landlord Handed Hefty Fine

Tenants suffered freezing winter with no heating or hot water

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An unlicensed Hammersmith landlord whose tenants suffered a freezing winter with no heating or hot water has been ordered to pay more than £30,000 following a council prosecution.

Royston Cooper failed to license a house in Talgarth Road, Hammersmith, which he rented to five architectural students despite it having a broken boiler and a shared toilet that leaked waste.

When Cooper ignored their pleas to fix the boiler, the students complained to H&F Council’s private housing and health service, which investigated and took action at the start of this year.

Officers recognised the tenants were at risk of immediate harm and arranged for a new boiler to be installed and the toilet to be fixed while taking action against the rogue landlord, who had broken the law by failing to license the property as a house in multiple occupation, or HMO.

At Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, October 7, the council’s lawyer argued that a hefty fine was needed to reflect the physical and mental hardship endured by the five tenants, who were left without heating or hot water for four weeks.

Cooper, 47, of Billingshurst in West Sussex, did not appear and was found guilty of four offences under the Housing Act. He was fined £15,000 for failing to license the house as an HMO, £5,000 for failing to maintain the boiler, a further £5,000 for not fixing a leaking soil pipe in the toilet, and another £3,000 for failing to respond to an investigator’s request for information.

He was also ordered to pay costs of £2,160 and a victim surcharge of £120. The tenants, who moved out in February, can now apply to have some of their rent returned.

Cllr Lisa Homan, H&F Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said; " This is a fantastic result – both for the tenants, who were forced to endure a miserable winter without heating or hot water, and for our private housing and health team, who did not hesitate in taking action when it was needed.

" We will continue to crack down hard on landlords who think they can get away with allowing their tenants to suffer in sub-standard conditions."

Landlords must hold a licence for each HMO that they own if it is rented out to five or more people, is at least three storeys high and has a shared toilet, bathroom or kitchen.

To report a problem, contact the private housing and health service on 020 8753 1221  or email phs@lbhf.gov.uk.

 

October 16, 2014

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