City landlord fined thousands for property failures: IMG 0902

23 Apr 2021

City landlord fined thousands for property failures

Private Housing Team brings successful case

A Bristol landlord has been handed nearly £30,000 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to maintenance and safety failures at three properties, following a prosecution brought by the city’s Private Housing Team.

Portfolio holder Naomi Knapp, of East Street, Bedminster, agreed to pay £2,000 a month for at least the next year to meet the fines, costs and victim surcharges totalling £29,597.59, after admitting failing to meet required standards of management in three properties rented as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in the case at Bristol Magistrates Court on Monday (19 April).

Confirming, in mitigation, that she had carried out the work required and produced relevant safety certificates, Ms Knapp also recognised it would be a responsible step to engage a property management company and agreed to hand over 18 properties to an independent agent to manage the HMO licences.

Bristol City Council’s Private Housing Team visited the three properties – in Dartmoor Street, St John’s Lane and Wedmore Vale - last summer and discovered conditions to be poor in each.

Following up a complaint by five tenants of the HMO at St John’s Lane about an electric shower as well as concerns about the condition of the property they had just started renting, council officers uncovered a long list of breaches under the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006, (The Management Regulations).

These included failing to ensure the means of escape from fire was clear, adequate maintenance and keeping outdoor spaces safe and free of rubbish.

A further complaint from HMO tenants at Dartmoor Street led to similar findings, with a long list of items in disrepair and safety breaches uncovered.

Meanwhile, a check at the HMO-licensed Wedmore Vale address revealed that work on additional kitchen facilities, improvements to the fire safety systems and ventilation to the bathroom had not been completed, with further management regulation breaches including a huge stack of rubbish and cycles in the garden.

Ms Knapp entered guilty pleas to three offences for Dartmoor St, for which she was fined a total of £8,000, three offences for St Johns Lane, (£8,000) and two offences for Wedmore Vale, (£6,000).

Tom Gilchrist, Bristol City Council’s Private Housing Service Manager, said: “This is the third successful prosecution brought by the Private Housing Team this year. We continue to bring to court landlords that fail in their responsibility to adequately manage their multiple occupied properties.

“Naomi Knapp is a portfolio landlord who has been renting property for many years and the magistrates commented that as such she should have the knowledge and experience to act on the issues identified.

“The council has agreed with Ms Knapp that all the properties which require a licence with are handed on to a professional agent to hold the licences. As a consequence the tenants can expect the properties to be managed and maintained to a higher standard in the future.”

ENDS