Managing agent, Shaji Odushoti, a director of Odus Ltd, has admitting breaking fire regulations and other failures in a pioneering prosecution at St Albans Magistrates’ Court.
A second company director Shain Hutchings of XS Property Management Maintenance Ltd of Hatfield Road, St Albans owned up to a further five offences for one property.
Odus Ltd was fined £17,600 and ordered to pay the council costs of £17,424, in respect of multiple occupancy properties in Richards Street, The Runway, Harpsfield Broadway, and Fillingham Way.
XS Property Management, which was prosecuted over another property in The Runway, was fined £4,300 and ordered to pay costs of £3,210 for problems such as a faulty fire door and a missing smoke seal.
Odushoti told Welwyn Hatfield Times the council had inspected the homes only two weeks after it had taken them over, and issued a summons while it was waiting for landlords’ approval for the necessary work.
Director Shain Hutchings said: “I feel aggrieved at the fine. These were very minor faults, and we were not given time to correct them. If I could have afforded to, I would have fought it.”
The two managing agents, who own and manage properties in Hatfield, were ordered to pay a total of £42,534 in fines after pleading guilty to a total of 46 offences at St Albans Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday 17 June.
After being taken to St Albans Magistrates’ Court by the borough council, Shaji Odushoti, a director Odus Ltd of Bishops Square, Hatfield, admitted 41 offences on four properties managed for private landlords, and XS Property Management Maintenance Ltd of Hatfield Road, St Albans owned up to a further five offences for one property.
The failures by Odus Ltd included locked and faulty fire doors, missing smoke seals, an empty fire extinguisher, a missing fire blanket, and a broken alarm.
This is the first time Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council has prosecuted multiple managing agents and is part of a series of prosecutions aiming to crack down on poor management practices.
Councillor Mandy Perkins, cabinet member for planning, housing and community, told Welwyn Hatfield Times:
“We are very pleased with this outcome. It is proof that we will not tolerate managing agents in our borough who compromise the safety of their tenants, particularly relating to fire safety issues.”
Councillor Perkins added: “We hugely value the contribution that good quality rented accommodation makes to the local housing market, but we hope this sends a clear signal to managing agents that they must comply with the law.
“I would urge residents to protect themselves by checking their managing agent or landlord is PAL (Partnership Accreditation for Landlords)-accredited.
“This is a council-run scheme, which strives to ensure that accredited managing agents meet their legal obligations.”