A rogue landlord has been fined £17,000 for renting out a dangerous and unlicensed HMO – just four months after being handed a £50,000 fine for similar offences at another property.

Francis Investments (East Anglia) of St Helens Street, Ipswich, and director Ralph Bernard (pictured above, right), were found guilty of all nine charges brought under the Housing Act 2004 at Ipswich Magistrates Court.

It follows an investigation by environmental health officers in Ipswich Council’s private sector housing team who found the property in Starfield Close had no licence, insufficient fire safety precautions as the alarm system was completely inadequate, and no fire doors.

The investigation also revealed a poorly-installed electric light in the bathroom, missing staircase baluster, a kitchen floor covering in poor condition, defective cooker and a poorly maintained garden with a dumped mattress.

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Firefighters called

In the previous case, Bernard was ordered to pay fines and legal costs of more than £50,000 after firefighters were called to an incident in his London Road property in 2019 to discover a range of fire safety concerns as well as an illegal basement flat.

The building had been converted into five flats including an apartment in the basement – despite being specifically prohibited by the council. Its investigation found a poorly positioned skylight into the rear yard of the basement flat used for natural light and ventilation, along with electrical defects throughout the building.

alisdair ross landlord fine

Ipswich Labour councillor Alasdair Ross (pictured), portfolio holder for community protection, says: “Ipswich Borough Council expects all private landlords to meet their legal obligations for any Houses in Multiple Occupation that they rent out.

“We will enforce the law against the few who try and avoid the law and we will work to ensure private tenants live in safe and well-managed accommodation.”

Pic Credit: Archant Media

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