A landlord who ignored improvement notices on his two unlicensed properties has been handed a £15,000 fine by magistrates.
Durham County Council prosecuted Sukhraj Singh Barham, whose company Front Worth Limited is based in Birmingham, after a tenant at the house on Seventh Street in Horden told them it had been sold two weeks before, but that he had not had contact with his new landlord.
Council inspectors found it in a state of disrepair, without heating or hot water, along with damp and mould and a partial ceiling collapse in a bedroom. The staircase banister was too low, the toilet cistern was cracked and broken, and there were no carbon monoxide and smoke alarms.
The council carried out emergency repairs to the boiler and Barham was tracked down. However, a further inspection showed none of the issues had been addressed, with hazards remaining relating to fire and uncombusted fuel gas. An improvement notice was served but ignored.
Peterlee magistrates were told how similarly, the council was contacted by the tenant of a property in Tenth Street, Horden, who had no information about his new landlord. The property was in a state of disrepair, with a large damp area on the kitchen wall. Council inquiries led to Barham and an improvement notice was served but ignored.
Barham was found guilty of four charges in his absence and fined a total of £12,600, ordered to pay costs of £1,343 and a victim surcharge of £2,000.
Lynn Hall, the council’s strategic housing manager, says: “He failed to respond to legal orders to carry out work or to get a licence in respect of either property and we hope the sentence imposed will act as a reminder to both him and other landlords of the consequences of not doing so.”
The case represents the authority’s first prosecution under selective licensing, which was brought in in April 2022.