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Landlord wins key legal case over 'unworkable' prohibition orders

prohibition orders nottingham landlord

A landlord has won an unusual legal victory after a local council tried to prevent her property being rented out.

 Nottingham Counckl had argued that the property's spiral staircase within a converted factory was too dangerous for workmen over 60 years old to use despite being of a standard design.

The case saw landlord Miss G Trotter fight two prohibition orders handed out by the council, even though the Tribunal heard that the townhouse on Lower Parliament Street (main picture) was in an excellent condition.

Nevertheless, the council said both the property’s staircase and windowless basement bedrooms contravened Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) rules and therefore only one of its three bedrooms were suitable for renting out.

Expensive

Trotter fought the expensive prohibition orders, which required her to install new stairs and create windows in the basement.

The lengthy Tribunal hearing heard that Trotter argued that the stairs met Building Regulations; that she had no control over the ages of contractors who visited the property from time to time; and that previous tenants had not complained about light levels in the basement bedrooms.

Trotter pointed out that she had highlighted the lack of natural light to building inspectors when she bought the property in 2010, but no action had been taken then.

The council claimed that the lack of light in the bedrooms could be of ‘severe psychological impact upon the tenants’ but in relation to the stairs, agreed that thousands of properties across the UK with spiral stairs were likely to be in contravention of HHSRS rules and be classed as Category 1 hazards, and that it had not measured the stairs.

Risk free

The Tribunal backed Trotter, saying: “Our view is that, with respect to the Council, the decision to categorise the stairs as constituting a category 1 hazard is difficult to accept. The stairs are not, of course, risk free, but they do not, in our view constitute an unacceptable risk to those aged over 60.

“At least in respect of regular contractors engaged in work at the property, it would be impossible for the applicant to monitor compliance without requiring her to impose contractual obligations on her contractors that most would not accept as they would verge on the edge of being unreasonable.

“Our view is that the Council’s decision to impose the Prohibition Order in relation to light was not supportable on the evidence and so it cannot be sustained.”

Both prohibition orders were quashed.

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