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Following a hearing earlier this month (7 February), a £15,000 penalty for failing to comply with an improvement notice was upheld against landlord Kingspark Limited.
Following a complaint from the tenant to the borough council, an inspection of the property on Electric Avenue, Harrogate was carried out which identified a significant number of hazards relating to fire and gas safety, excess cold, damp and mould and structural issues at the property.
An improvement notice was initially served on a previous owner who failed to comply with these requirements. However, in September 2018 Kingspark purchased the property and therefore became required to comply with the notice.
Given this sale, the council allowed the new landlord a further three months to comply with the notice. However, they failed to undertake the repair works by the deadline specified. Although the landlord eventually did undertake the works, this was done after the deadline date specified in the notice.
In-line with legislation, the council have adopted a policy whereby a financial penalty can be imposed on a private landlord who fail to comply with all the requirements of an improvement notice within a specified time period.
Given Kingspark’s failure to comply with this notice by the due date the council issued them with a £15,000 penalty.
Kingspark appealed this penalty and the matter was determined at a hearing of the tribunal earlier this month (7 February). The tribunal found in favour of the council and indicated they found no grounds to alter the amount of the financial penalty.
The tribunal concluded Kingspark’s ‘delay in agreeing to carry out the works was unjustifiable’ and ‘it did not admit its culpability but continued to blame the tenant for the condition of the property’.
The tribunal decided the council had correctly determined the amount of the financial penalty and there were no grounds for varying the amount. Kingspark Limited is now required to pay £15,000 to the council.
Councillor Mike Chambers, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for housing and safer communities, said:
While there are no doubt many landlords who provide excellent residential and/or business accommodation, there will sadly always be those who put the financial gain ahead of the safety of their tenants.
Even after being served with an improvement notice this landlord failed to act responsibly and I’m therefore delighted that, thanks to the extensive work by numerous officers at the council, we have been able to serve them with such a significant penalty.
This is an important reminder for landlords that as the housing authority we have the powers, and where necessary, will use them to protect tenants and residents.