Landlord fined for ‘dangerous’ conditions
DAVID SANSOM was prosecuted by North West Leicestershire District Council due to a lack of fire precautions and having no licence for a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
Leicester Mercury reported on the prosecution of Mr Sansom over his Coalville property, which had ‘crammed’ six families into three bedrooms. The unlicensed HMO allowed families to rent space but ‘failed to secure the necessary permission, which resulted in ‘at least eight tenants crammed into the house, with some living in a dangerous roof space’.
The trial at Leicester Magistrates Court heard from the council, for whom a spokesman stated: ‘Environmental Protection Officers from the council made the discovery after a tip off from a member of the public. After visiting the home in Waterworks Road they immediately issued an emergency prohibition to prevent the loft from being used as a habitable space.’
Three families had been living in each of the three bedrooms, while the ground floor living room ‘had been partitioned’ to create another two rooms for an extra two families, while a sixth family was living in the ‘hastily-converted loft’. The council spokesman added that ‘in total 14 issues were identified, with 10 offences used in a criminal prosecution’ against Mr Sansom.
These charges included not having an HMO licence as well as electrics ‘not being maintained in a safe condition’ and a ‘lack of adequate fire precautions, obstructions to escape routes’ and ‘no fire or smoke alarms in the loft’. The only exit from the loft was a collapsible ladder, with Mr Sansom’s defence stating that he had ‘not realised so many people would move into’ each of the rooms after renting them out, while work ‘was planned’ to improve the living conditions.
Magistrates fined Mr Sansom £145 for each offence, totalling £1,015, while he was also ordered to pay a £30 victim surcharge and the council’s £1,911 legal costs. Alison Smith, deputy leader of the council and portfolio holder for community services, hoped the case ‘would act as a warning’ to other landlords, adding: ‘This prosecution sends a strong message that homeowners cannot break licensing laws or allow tenants to live in dangerous conditions.
‘Legislation exists for a reason, and a there are a lot of factors that need to be considered before we will allow a home to be let to multiple tenants – not least the safety of the tenants themselves. This case shows we will investigate reports from the public and act if someone is disregarding the rules and regulations.’