Northampton magistrates have had to reopen a case against an HMO landlord fined £38,000 for allegedly illegally letting rooms to more than 30 students.
HMO landlord Chris Berrington, director of Student Housing Northamptonshire Ltd, was found guilty of HMO (house in multiple occupation) licensing offences in his absence at Northampton Magistrates Court – but court officials had overlooked a not guilty plea he had delivered by hand and forgot to pass the details on to magistrates.
Instead, the letter was sent to Northampton Crown Court, which was not involved in the case.
As he had sent the letter, Berrington, 29, did not go to court on the day of the hearing, so had no chance to offer any explanation.
Now, magistrates have agreed to reopen the case and will listen to the evidence again later this month.
At the earlier hearing, they were told Berrington had ignored repeated council demands to licence five shared houses let to students.
Danger HMO closed
East Lindsey Council has won their first prosecution against an HMO landlord letting a shared house without a licence.
The property was in such a poor state, the council ordered immediate closure and rehoused the tenants.
Skegness magistrates heard the shared house was a potential fire risk and did not have an HMO licence.
The HMO landlord – only named as Mr Vincent – was fined £4,500 with £1,950 costs.
Buy to let flooded with water waste
Landlord Ghulam Sorwar will have to pay for a council to repair a leaking waste water pipe that regularly that regularly floods a flat let by a mum and her young daughter.
Colchester Council estimates the repair bill at £8,000. Sorwar has already paid £400 for ignoring council improvement notices and £1,970 in fines and costs imposed by magistrates for failing to carry out the repairs.
Magistrates heard the council repeatedly spoke to Sorwar, of Ilford, Essex, asking him to fix the pipe after the flat was regularly flooded with waste water that has damaged flooring, walls and plaster.
Tina Bourne, the councillor responsible for housing, said: “Colchester Council will not tolerate this unacceptable negligence from private sector landlords.
“If landlords fail to take action when they are in violation of the Housing Act, the council is prepared to take action and prosecute.
“If tenants have repeatedly tried to get issues repaired by their landlords or letting agents with no success, I would encourage them to seek help.”