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Landlord and property manager found guilty of poor property management

Date Published: 11 December 2017

Colchester Borough Council has successfully prosecuted Cyril Thomas, Company Director of Platinum Crown Investments Ltd, a local property management company, for nine offences of breaching regulations relating to a house in multiple occupation (HMO), owned by him. 

The prosecution is a result of inspections carried out by Colchester Borough Council in December 2015 following a complaint from a resident who reported that they and five other residents had been left without power, light or heat during a weekend in November 2015. 

The inspections revealed that the accommodation, a flat above the letting agency office in Hythe Hill, Colchester had been poorly converted without Building Regulations approval. As a result the fuse box for the electrics was inaccessible to the tenants and when the electrics tripped, the residents were left in the cold and the dark for two nights, despite their repeated attempts to contact the management company.

During the property inspections, the Council's Private Sector Housing Team discovered that heating arrangements increased the risk of fire and defects to the building's escape route would have reduced the tenants' chances of escaping safely if a fire had occurred. 

The Court heard that a range of management failings breached regulations that apply when separate rooms are let or accommodation is rented to a group of sharers (a HMO). 

Despite receiving written and verbal guidance from the Council following its visit in December 2015, Mr Thomas did not take adequate steps to improve living conditions, such as replacing lightbulbs in the escape route, before it was re-inspected later that month. 

Councillor Tina Bourne, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Communities, said: "Good quality houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) form an important part of Colchester's housing market and Colchester Borough Council works hard to encourage responsible management of this type of accommodation. The risks to residents' health and safety is often greater when HMOs are not well managed so there are extra legal responsibilities placed on all HMO managers.

"This case highlights that where those responsibilities are not being met and residents are put at risk then we will take the necessary action."

Sentencing for this prosecution is due to take place on 20 December 2017.