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Landlord fined over eyesore properties

Staying on the right side of the law can be far more difficult for landlords than they might imagine, as demonstrated by a landlord from St Helens who was fined £6,160 over two “eyesore” properties he owned.
Cedric Fitzpatrick had received two S215 notices, relating to untidy land and property. These stated that he must improve the external appearance of two adjacent houses, as well as tidying their gardens. Fitzpatrick failed to comply with these and was subsequently ordered to pay the large fine, as well as £150 in court charges, £80 costs and a £120 victim surcharge. He was found guilty in his absence.
Fitzpatrick ran the White Horse pub in St Helens for several years. In 2012 he came to the attention of the authorities when residents complained about beer barrels being stored outside the premises. An investigation followed, in which it was found that he was selling counterfeit vodka that was deemed “unfit for human consumption”. He was jailed for nine months in 2014.
This time, the council had received numerous complaints about the state of the two properties in Morris Street, Sutton. The court’s intention was to send a strong message to other landlords who might be tempted to ignore their responsibilities and allow their properties to become dilapidated and poorly maintained. Absentee landlords can end up neglecting their properties more than those who live nearby or are otherwise more involved with the running of their investment property.
More and more councils are taking such steps to ensure that landlords comply with improvement notices and meet their responsibilities. The matters at stake may be simple cosmetic issues, or questions of health and safety. Section 215 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 gives a local planning authority the power to take steps requiring land to be cleaned up when its condition “adversely affects the amenity of the area”.

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