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Colchester landlord receives £20,000 court bill for poor property management

Date Published: 21 December 2017

On 20 December, a Colchester landlord and property agent was required to pay £20,000 after being found guilty of nine offences in relation to a house in multiple occupation (HMO) which he owned in Hythe Hill.

Cyril Thomas, of local property management company Platinum Crown Investments Ltd, was fined £1000 for each of the offences and ordered to pay over £11,000 costs and a victim surcharge of £100 by Colchester Magistrates, totalling over £20,000.

In December 2015, inspections revealed that the accommodation, a flat above the letting office in Hythe Hill, Colchester, had been poorly converted without Building Regulations approval. This contributed to breaches of HMO management regulations including increased fire risks and an inaccessible fuse box which caused residents to be left in the cold and dark for two nights after the electrics tripped.

Breaching the HMO Management Regulations is a criminal offence. Whilst the Council will try to work with landlords to seek their compliance, where serious breaches are identified, a prosecution will always be considered, as in this instance.

As required by the legislation, the prosecution was brought against Mr Thomas, who was found guilty of nine offences on 11 December.

Landlords and managing agents have a duty to act professionally to ensure that they meet all the legal requirements. Specifically for HMOs, This includes complying with HMO management regulations and where applicable, obtaining an HMO licence and carrying out a fire safety risk assessment. The Council have produced a range of guidance documents to assist landlords and managing agents to comply with their legal obligations. These documents are available online at www.colchester.gov.uk/landlordsadvice.

Councillor Tina Bourne, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Communities, said: "The fine reflects the serious impact that these breaches could have had on the health and safety of the four households who lived in the Hythe Hill flat. 

"Ignoring regulations and cutting corners in regard to HMO management and building regulations can put lives at risk. In this case, it resulted in a group of tenants being left without power for two nights during the coldest time of year, and could have had much more serious consequences. We will always take action wherever officers find that a HMO is not being responsibly managed."

ENDS