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Cold, dangerous house leads to fine for landlady

A landlady has been fined in her absence after failing to improve a cold, damp and dangerous property that she owns.
Janet Marlene Carter was prosecuted for her neglect of a property in Redruth. A team from Cornwall Council had inspected the property earlier in the year and found a number of serious problems. One of the bedroom ceilings had collapsed due to water leaking through it – also resulting in wet rot on a skirting board. There were large gaps around the front door and one of the bedroom windows did not close properly, making the house extremely cold. There were loose boards on the stairs and inadequate handrails, representing a significant safety threat to tenants. There was also a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning due to loose fire bricks and gaps around a solid fuel heating appliance.
An improvement notice was served, ordering her to fix the outstanding issues by 20 April. However, when the council team made a second inspection, they found that only one of the problems had been fixed (the carbon monoxide hazard), with no progress on the others.
Mark Grose, from Cornwall Council’s Private Sector Housing team, commented that legal action was the most appropriate response in cases such as this. “The property was being poorly managed and in such poor condition that it was putting the health, safety and wellbeing of the occupant at significant risk of harm. It was apparent that no maintenance had been completed at the property for some considerable time and the landlord did not respond within the required timescales to the enforcement notices.”

Carter, who did not attend court, was fined £3,000, as well as ordered to pay costs of £1,642.72, a victim surcharge of £120 and a criminal court charge of £150, making a total of £4,912.72.
Landlords in any doubt about their responsibilities, or who believe they may be on the wrong side of the law, are encouraged to seek guidance from a property law specialist.

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