A canny landlord who stood up to council inspectors has successfully challenged a licence condition to install a new fire door at his student HMO.
Roger Braithwaite, a career and expert environmental health officer, was told by Coventry Council that he could only have a licence on the property in Cable Yard (pictured) for two instead of the normal five years.
The authority said this was due to his failure to submit a complete application in time, although the landlord explained he had had problems with the on-line process '� and this complaint was partially upheld.
A First Tier Property Tribunal heard that the council also insisted that he fit a fire door at the bottom of the stairs leading to the kitchen.
However, Braithwaite argued that other similar properties in the yard did not have this requirement and stressed that safety standards in the house exceeded those required by HomeStamp Guidance, followed by the council.
An independent building engineer confirmed that the proposed fire door would constitute a breach of building regulations and cause an obstruction.
At the hearing, the council agreed that fire doors were not necessary but then demanded that the kitchen should be compartmentalised.
The tribunal accepted that the compartmentalisation of the kitchen including a door would obstruct the escape route and said it was satisfied the property met the general fire precautions.
It agreed with the landlord and ordered that the HMO licence should run for five years without conditions.
The judge added: 'The late change of approach by the respondent [the council] was unsatisfactory and appeared to be something of a rear-guard action to justify its continued opposition to the applicant's appeal.'�